sionals have an obligation to explain
Pilot projects are routinely declared
successes, regardless of any problems
encountered. However, it is dangerous to draw conclusions from a “
successful” Internet voting pilot project.
There is little reason to attack a small
pilot project, and a malicious player
might refrain from attacking a major
election until the new technology is
entrenched. Having claimed success,
independent of proof of the accuracy
of the pilot project, Internet-voting
vendors and enthusiasts routinely
push to extend Internet voting to a
broader group of voters, thereby seriously undermining election security.
Computer professionals must object
to pilot projects that do not plan for an
assessment of the integrity of the election and a public reporting of any dis-crepancies encountered.
Unlike legitimate computer-security experts, malicious attackers are not
likely to publicize their attacks, just as
credit-card thieves do not openly advertise their thefts. When election officials and policymakers ask for proof
that a voting system has been attacked,
it is important to keep in mind that
detecting well-devised attacks is inherently difficult. The burden of proof that
a voting system has not been attacked
should fall on those making the claim,
not the other way around.
Ultimately, the balance between the
integrity of election technology on the
one hand and convenience on the other is both a public-policy and a technological issue. Decision makers must be
warned of all the risks in order to craft
We are grateful to the referees who
provided us with excellent recommendations.
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Barbara Simons ( email@example.com) is a retired IbM
research staff member, board Chair of Verified Voting, and
former aCM President.
Douglas W. Jones ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate
professor in the department of Computer science of the
university of Iowa in Iowa City.