With so many U.S. soldiers residing overseas, the Board of Elections and Ethics in Washington D.C. wanted to try using the Internet for voting. However, with the Internet being so prone to hacking, the Board decided to test if they can keep the hackers out before counting these overseas votes.
About 24 hours after launching the test online voting system the results were speaking for themselves. 15 seconds after a voter entered their vote into the system they heard the University of Michigan’s fight songs, clearly showing that the system had be hacked. Not only were the votes moved around to choose between the candidates already in the system, there was a new candidate that had captured the city-council chairmanship. This new U.S. Representative went by the name of Colossus, a villainous computer from the science-fiction world.
“The question is not whether these systems can be broken into, it’s whether anyone wants to,” said J. Alex Halderman, the University of Michigan computer scientist who led the attack on the test voting system.
The test clearly showed that our Internet security is not strong enough yet to deal with information as sensitive as votes for a U.S. representative and can easily be hacked.
“Our ballots are precious cargo … [The Internet] is the last thing on earth designed to handle private info that should not be tampered with. It’s like writing a contract in pencil,” says Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, CEO of the Overseas Vote Foundation.
However, this is not the end of Internet voting for good, but instead just shows that it is too early for it right now. As the security of the Internet improves over the next few years this test will be carried out again or will help find a different way for overseas soldiers to get their votes counted.