Currently, many aspects of our day to day life has become online. In this era of the internet, people have the ability to shop, entertain, connect with other people, and even pay taxes by a simple touch. But the United States election, probably the most important process of the country, does not have an online presence. Voting online allows people to vote from anywhere, from home, work, or on the road through their mobile devices. And if there was a secure way to vote online, there will be no issue regarding the reliability of postal services to carry votes. And also due to the COVID pandemic, many people might not be appealed to attend a polling station or at least a mailbox for postal voting.
The concept of voting online is not entirely new to the world. Countries like Australia, Canada, and France, have already experimented with the online format in their elections. And Estonia has held online elections, since early as 2005.
Even though the concept of online elections is appealing, some experts are skeptical about the process. According to them, cyber security is a massive issue, Voting online could mean that hackers, including foreign adversaries, could interfere or manipulate the election to their advantage. There are many ways a hacker can interfere with the votes, they can delete votes, they can change votes, or they can delete voters, and the hackers can also tamper with the voting devices, and with servers, and the process of auditing.
Even the voting system was secured completely, there is a significant risk having a voters device already be compromised. And to have a secure election, the government will have to secure, every single device in the country. And some experts also predicted that because people come from different social and financial backgrounds, there might be a socioeconomic divide among the voters. Some people might not have devices to access the internet at all, and some might have older devices. Newer devices tend to have a more upgraded security system, while older device holders can be compromised regarding the security of their vote.
The united states have already used online elections in the past. Some states provide some sort of online voting, including fax, email, or an online portal. To make this happen state departments collaborated with private companies that provide secure voting platforms. However several audits revealed many vulnerabilities in these systems. And online voting systems also oppose a unique issue, the anonymity of the voter is a very important factor during an election. The vote cannot be traced back to the person who voted at all. And having online elections through personal devices oppose a threat for the voter’s anonymity.
Having online voting capabilities is indeed a convenience for many people. And the majority of voters do not go to polling stations just because it is not convenient. According to experts who support the online voting concept, even though it has many concerns regarding security, the benefits of online voting will be countless for the voters. And they think as a first step, the mail-in vote system can be made online for the voters. The future of US elections is unclear, but with the aggressive growth of online presence in everything, almost forces the election procedure to have an online presence in the future.