Study rejects remote e-voting

The results are in, and voting from home or office via computers and the Internet is a loser.

A study by the National Science Foundation concluded that the most convenient kind of Internet voting — ballots cast using computers at home or work —should not be used because it poses a "significant risk to the integrity of the voting process."

Although "remote Internet voting" would maximize voter convenience, it is riddled with security problems, NSF officials wrote in a report released March 6. Problems are numerous, ranging from high-tech fraud to more mundane matters such as properly identifying voters and preventing spouses or employers from influencing votes.

Registering voters via the Internet poses a special threat, NSF warns, noting "a high risk of automated fraud" in the form of "undetected registration of large numbers of phony voters."

But not all forms of Internet voting should be shunned.

One method NSF recommends experimenting with is "poll site Internet voting," in which voters would use computers at polling places to cast their votes. Benefits include greater convenience — citizens could vote from anypolling place — and vote tallying would be faster and more error-free.

And security risks that plague remote Internet voting would be minimized because election officials control the voting machines and the physical environment of the polling places.

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