Is online voting safe?

Last updated: January 5, 2021
Is online voting safe?

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Online voting is a new addition to the age-old Ballot process. Voting online can solve a lot of problems such as giving people who are disabled the convenience to vote from their homes, allowing the elderly to cast their votes easily, and allowing those stationed outside the country to be able to influence decisions in their homeland.

However, a lot of concerns have been raised in regards to online voting. ‘Is it safe to register to vote online?’ is a question that many people seem to have on their minds. There might be plenty of risks involved such as the ability for hackers to cast votes and influence the elections, get voter data, and disrupt the voting servers to stop people from being able to use this service.

We will take you through some of the risks that exist in online voting, and whether or not you can do something to combat these risks and make the process of voting online safer for you.

Is it safe to register to vote online?

This is the first question that people seem to have on their minds. Before the voting can even begin, it is possible for your private data to be stolen. Usually, people who are planning to use the online services to cast their votes need to register all of their information and prove their identity in an advance way before the election begins. This allows governments to ensure smooth sailing on the day of the vote.

However, this brings with it its perils. Once the data is stored on the server, it is possible for hackers to penetrate the security measures in place and get access to all of your data. This data can then be sold for a plethora of purposes (including being sold to marketers as well as those directly involved with the election).

Do not worry too much though, as all is not bleak. There are ways to combat the threats that go along with online voting. Some of them are on the user’s end while the election committee can do the others.

Solutions

The branch of the government that is in charge of online voting needs to be aware of the dangers that go along with the process. To combat this, there need to be top-notch security measures in place which guarantee that the data of the voter is protected. Because the government usually holds the elections, it should not be a problem since there is no shortage of resources.

Most governments understand the predicament that voting online places its users in and take necessary measures to combat these issues. However, we can see that it is still not impossible for hackers to gain access into voting systems.

On your end, what you can do is to make sure that your connection to the online voting servers is not compromised in any way. A VPN can be a great option to encrypt your internet traffic as well as route your traffic through secure servers. We recommend you use NordVPN as it has all of the necessary security features. You can read more about it in our NordVPN review. However, if you need more choices, check our full list of leading VPN services.

DDoS attacks

A Denial of Service attack essentially overflows the server with data to ensure that no traffic can go through the server. This can be extremely detrimental to the online voting process as a DDoS attack on election-day can halt the votes being cast.

DDoS attacks can occur from a variety of sources. The main problem is that performing an attack is not that difficult. Anyone with decent enough knowledge can unleash a Denial of Service attack. This means that the election will be open to any troll looking for notoriety from anywhere in the world.

Solution

There is only one way to protect the server from a DDoS attack, and that is through the server owner installing necessary protection to curtail all efforts of a DDoS attack. There are many ways to do this, from having extra bandwidth to using specific measures to disconnect from sources that start sending abnormal amounts of traffic to the server.

It is quintessential for a government to have necessary DDoS protections in place before online voting can begin. There are many services such as X4B which offer DDoS protection hosted remotely. Using a third-party service can slice the costs to the minimum while ensuring the election can go on smoothly.

Vote manipulation

With continuous claims of almost every major election being rigged to a certain extent, voting online would only add to the problem. If people can cast votes online, it is very easy for vote manipulation to take place.

A person may be able to vote on behalf of other people in the household who are not able to vote for one reason or the other. It might also be possible to hack into the registration process itself and vote for one party or the other. At the very extreme, online voting could simply become a fight of resources as corrupt candidates hire manipulators to cast votes in their favor.

Solution

There are no automated solutions to this issue (apart from one). However, there are many manual checks that can be in place in order to get a fair idea of whether or not any vote manipulation took place.

First, it is essential for the election committee to ensure the servers have the best available protection to decrease the chances of any malware or spyware penetrating their line of defenses. This is, of course, quite costly and the government needs to provide the required funds to increase the chances of a fair vote taking place.

Secondly, there need to be analysts who can take note of irregular voting patterns and report to the appropriate authorities who can investigate the patterns mentioned above. Some simple checks can also be in place such as comparing the turnout with turnout in previous elections to gauge whether or not there is something suspicious going on.

Online voting may very well be the voting system of tomorrow due to its ability to cut costs in the long run and provide convenience. However, we need to deal with a lot of security concerns first before this idea can become a part of the mainstream.

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5 comments
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  1. T Chalker

    I’d have to say that Russia has proven that they can hack our computer systems and would probably be able to alter our election results if our voting system was online. Voting the way we do now may not be cost effective, but the way things are going, I thinks it’s safer in the long run. I agree that we have to deal with a lot of security concerns first.


    1. RC Palumbo

      I agree. If the electronic voting system isn’t secure, nothing would stop someone from voting several times from the same IP address, or use a VPN to fake multiple new addresses and vote again and again. I think we’d be playing right into the hands of the Russians to create havoc on our election process.


  2. Kyle Wilkinson

    In many institutions and countries, online voting is allowed and practised. Again, technology has played an important role to the success and safety of the online voting data.


  3. href.href

    All the technologies in the world may make online voting safe as it can be. But, electorate would always be skeptical and no result would be ever peacefully accepted by losing party.

    The shadow of manipulation will always loom large, It will be a very very tough concept to sell to electorates.


  4. Alexis Gibson

    With the radical technological advancement in various parts of the globe, I feel that all advanced nations that make use of the internet must embrace online voting. Although I admit that their maybe security breaches, but this method of voting will save the government a lot and help citizens vote at their convenience.

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