Security, privacy, failure tolerance, and availability are the primary technical issues that must be addressed in any Internet voting system, and this talk will touch upon them all.
One major conclusion is that remote Internet voter registration systems are not recommended. Until such time as there are strong online human identification mechanisms widely available, along with ways to verify citizenship, age, and residency, any system for online voter registration is vulnerable to malicious, automated creation of an arbitrary number of phony voters.
Another conclusion is that Internet voting systems (as opposed to voter registration) must be divided into two fundamental classes:
(b) those in which the voter or a 3rd party controls the client environment, e.g. voting from PCs at home, office, university, hotel, etc.
Systems of type (a) are technically managable today, and may appear in California as soon as November, 2000, at least on a trial basis. On the other hand, systems of type (b) are vulnerable to Trojan horse attacks for which there are today no good technical solutions that are both effective and convenient enough for voters. Such systems should not be fielded until there is progress on the fundamental problem of managing malicious code.
About the speaker:
David Jefferson is a Senior Member of the Research Staff at Compaq's Systems Research Center in Palo Alto. He is also the chair of the Technical Committee of the California Secretary of State's Task Force on Internet Voting, and a member of the Board of Directors of the California Voter Foundation (www.calvoter.org). He has been very active in issues at the intersection of elections and the Internet for over five years with DEC and Compaq. Before that he worked in the fields of parallel discrete event simulation, parallel operating systems, synchronization, artificial life, and robotics on the faculties of computer science at USC and UCLA. He holds a B.S. in mathematics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University.
Compaq Systems Research Center (SRC)
130 Lytton Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301