Online voting offers many potential benefits over the current voting system used for U.S. elections. It can be easier, cheaper, and even more secure. However, it also comes with numerous risks that must be overcome.
The potential vulnerability of online systems is well known, and the opportunity to manipulate elections would make such a system an extremely attractive target for malicious actors online. Even if the dangers posed by attackers are ignored, building a voting system that can ensure both security and anonymity, while allowing users to vote from anywhere, is a challenging task.
I analyze the feasibility of implementing an online voting system, focusing on three key areas. First, I examine the potential benefits of online voting, making note of the flaws in the current voting system. Some level of risk is inevitable with any voting system; to be worth pursuing, an online voting system need not be risk-free, but instead must not increase risk relative to the current system.
Second, I analyze the technical challenges involved in providing secure, anonymous voting, as well as the potential threats that must be avoided. For online voting to work, it needs a secure system that can function on a mass scale and that can allow people who are not tech-savvy to use it.
Third, I discuss the practical and political implications of implementing such a system. Depending on how it is implemented, online voting could have significant effects on the political landscape, and these effects should be considered.
Kevin Johnson, ’13
Majors: Politics, Computer Science
Sponsors: Craig Allin and Ross Sowell