Keeping Elections Offline

Hacking an election is absurdly easy. Here’s how.

For those of us who envision voting online with the click of a button, this poses serious challenges. Although there is already plenty of voter suppression, through strict voter ID laws, lack of polling places, or unreasonable voter registration deadlines, there’s something deeply disturbing about having an outside force decide the state of our election. A good example of a country that’s dealing with this conundrum is Estonia.

This summer, I worked on a civic tech startup as part of the European Innovation Academy. Through that program I was able to talk to a lot of Estonians who have the fortune of having a fully functioning e-government platform, of which one feature was online voting. Far from being problem free, those students told me that there was no way to know if the incumbent party had rigged the elections, causing a split in public opinion over whether or not the government should scrap e-voting.

The most jarring part of the allegations is that you cannot prove whether or not someone has actually hacked the election. It’s untraceable.

My general change in thought: we should still have better government platforms to facilitate services, such as tax collection, employment records, healthcare services, etc, and we should have tools available for citizens to be able to prepare and understand the choices they have for president.

But when it comes to the actual vote, that has to be in person.