For the first time in history, many electoral consultations will have to take place without physically accessing the seats. In the United States, the pandemic is already having an impact on democratic primary, with many postponed votes, recount requests and huge legal disputes.
Political leaders around the world continue to discuss animatedly whether the elections in the coming months will include physical voting, a difficult choice for citizens between civic participation and personal security.
The impact of the current crisis on the US presidential elections in November, for example, is still unclear. It is clear, however, that we need to start thinking today about strategies to ensure that democracy is able to withstand this and any future pandemics, as well as other new threats that the 21st century might hold us back.
In this unprecedented challenge to democracy, online voting seems to be the most obvious solution. Compared to the mail-order voting, online voting is certainly more convenient, accessible and secure for each voter, for those who work in polls and for those who deliver mail to all the United States. But can online voting be considered completely safe?
Marcus Fowler, Darktrace’s Director of Strategic Threat, gave his vision of the phenomenon. According to the manager, some external governments, hacktivists or cyber-criminals will directly target any platforms used for voting and their data; a matter that has been brought to the fore after the case of Caucus in Iowa, an app for Rich in coding problems, the app had already been called a disaster announced, and something similar happened with the Voatz app, used in the elections in West Virginia, Oregon and Colorado, in which several security defects were detected.
The companies that develop applications for distance voting are currently working as quickly as possible to adapt and exploit the current technological demand; from this point of view, they tend to eliminate everything that is not essential to be the first on the market, and in the future, to be able to take advantage
Even when security is a priority, however, ensuring the protection of online voting methods is very difficult. For example, although the Voatz app uses blockchain, biometrics, bug bounty programs and numerous other security protocols, a recent study conducted by a team of MIT researchers has detected some possible vulnerabilities in the voting platform that
Ensuring that citizens trust an online voting platform is as important as ensuring its security itself: trust is the lifeblood of all democracies at global level.
In a climate where electoral participation is already tending to decrease, if people are not convinced that their vote counts, because they are not sure that it will be counted precisely, they will lose all possible incentive to participate in the democratic process.
Trust is therefore the fundamental principle of every democracy and security is vital to sustain it.
Digital democracy, the importance of security
This process can only be done by building reliable and rigorously controlled security protocols as the foundation of emerging voting technologies. However, in America, individual administrations may often lack the resources to validate with certainty the different solutions proposed by security vendors.
This is one of the most weak points of the federal government that sees varying degrees of maturity of individual administrations compared to cybersecurity, some very low explaining why they are frequently target of ransomware attacks during and outside the election season. Creating a central approval body at federal level is therefore the ideal solution to alleviate pressure on states that are currently trying to meet this security demand.
In this context, the US federal government could define clear and comprehensive security requirements for all online voting platforms, which include a rigorous testing and certification process; a process that should be transparent and exploit private skills and crowdsourcing methods; Ethical hackers specifically hired could unveil vulnerabilities in computer security protocols on a platform before any malicious people find out about them.
Finally, in order to ensure confidence even if there is a compromise, all voting methods must maintain a verifiable and verifiable paper trail and a foundation of the vote based on the paper ballots. This is because the US public maintains a strong scepticism about the security of mobile applications and the privacy of their data, justified by the constant flow of abuse and abuse of data by realities such as Facebook and Capitol One, as well as cyber attacks brought to completion against other entities
The advent of digital democracy is an imminent process for all governments, not just the American one, and today it is more evident than ever how the most sophisticated tools should be used, from blockchain to data validation systems to artificial intelligence technologies, which offer full
When Fowler is closed, we must proceed with caution because democracy is a delicate process and there is no short-term solution to deal with the current change of paradigm in the channels of democracy.
Of course, we need papery traces of the vote to preserve the confidence of the citizens in the present, but advanced security technologies are also needed to guide democracy safely towards an increasingly uncertain future. The ambitious objective will be to maintain social distance while allowing greater participation by voters, and at the moment, for the 2020 elections, to vote through a paper ballot sent by post, combining appropriate review measures, could be the most promising and safe short-term solution