- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thirty-three states are planning to allow some form of Internet voting in November’s elections, but the technology is not ready for prime time, a U.S. cybersecurity official warned Thursday.

“It is premature to deploy Internet voting in real elections at this time,” Bruce McConnell, senior cybersecurity adviser at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told a meeting of state and local election officials and their supporters in Santa Fe, N.M.

Mr. McConnell said that current Internet voting technology is “immature” and “under-resourced,” according to a recording of his remarks posted by the Election Verification Network, a nonpartisan nonprofit group that advocates for the integrity of U.S. elections.

At present, 33 states have laws allowing certain completed ballots to be transmitted via the Internet, mostly by email and e-fax, and primarily for military and overseas voters, according to the network.

Mr. McConnell’s remarks will fuel the growing debate about online voting in the presidential election.

Many computer security experts believe that secure Internet voting is decades away, but some election officials and companies that make voting systems are pushing email, digital fax and online voting platforms for military and overseas voters. They aim eventually to deploy online voting for all citizens.

“Election officials who run and pursue online voting programs must understand that they are putting voters’ ballots at risk of being altered or deleted without anyone realizing it,” said Susannah Goodman, a member of the network’s volunteer leadership.

Banking systems, which have the most robust security of any commercial enterprise, are “routinely hacked,” Ms. Goodman said.

Banks regard the losses as “a cost of doing business and expect to lose money. Do we want to expect to lose ballots?” she said.