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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Big Brother could check your vote

Written February 18th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
The Oregon seal under the Capitol dome.

The Oregon seal under the Capitol dome.

How would you like some government agency to keep track of how you vote, and especially for whom? That’s the first question that sprang to mind when I first heard of Oregon’s Senate Bill 1515.
The bill calls on the secretary of state to form a work group to study Internet voting and to report back to the legislature by Dec. 1, 2014. The measure has cleared the Senate Rules Committee and is making its way through the legislative process with bipartisan support.

Under the terms of the bill, the work group “shall investigate,” among other things, how Internet voting could increase voter turnout in elections, especially among members of the armed forces. Also it’s supposed to look at security features used in private industry for banking, shopping, education and work.

This legislation is being considered after hackers broke into the online shopping system of Target and other concerns and stole personal data from a millions of customers. That’s one angle that should give us all pause: no online system seems to be perfectly secure.

The second point arguing against Internet voting is the principle of the secret ballot. We have weakened that principle by sending everyone a ballot in the mail, allowing plenty of opportunity to breach the secrecy of how we vote at least on the household or family level. But having weakened it is no reason to abandon it altogether.

The very core of dealings on the Internet is that there is no privacy. Business transactions depend on being able to identify, with passwords and computer addresses, who is doing what online. So once we start deciding on ballot measures and selecting candidates online, any adept technician with access to the servers should be able to tell not only which citizens have voted, as now, but also who or what they voted for and against.

With that in mind, we don’t even need to consider whether determined hackers hired by pressure groups could learn to throw elections without having to spend millions on ads. Even without considering that, we can see that online voting is not a great idea. (hh)



4 responses to “Big Brother could check your vote”

  1. AbsoFreakinLutely says:

    One straw man argument that catches my attention is getting the participation of servicemen & women. Unless the “problem” is quantified and published as a justification, then Kate Brown has no business hiding behind any military personnel.

    One news commentator today, “Oregon has set the bar for futility” about Cover Oregon.

    I have Zero confidence that the SOS can do any better, the ORESTAR system is down now because it was hacked. Perhaps we should get a few of the fundamentals controlled before frittering away more money on “studies”.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The Secretary of State will lead this study? Wasn’t her office website recently hacked?

    But my money routinely moves around via the internet. The planes I fly in are controlled through the internet. At some point using the internet requires a leap of faith.

    Am I ready to take that leap with a government-controlled online voting system? Nope.

  3. Jim Engel says:

    Being a “boomer” child I was raised with the idea that a responsible citizen went to the nearest polling place & voted! I watched as they did & in my turn did the same. Then along came the mail in deal for those just too damn lazy to get out & vote. Now, the government wants to move to internet voting. Sure thing CIA & NSA..! As it is does our voting really mean anything??!! JE

  4. Shawn Dawson says:

    Internet voting is a bad idea. It will be hacked. Who one votes for will be determined. There will be no paper trail and thus, no way non-electronic to audit the system for corruption. It would start out as optional, but then would be mandatory, as it would save dollars not having to print and mail ballots. Nope, nope, nope. Very bad idea.

 

 
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