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October 27, 2017 8:44 pm

Online Voting Too Risky – Cullen

Saturday, October 15, 2016 @ 6:55 AM

Prince George, B.C. – It doesn’t appear Canadians will be casting their votes online anytime soon.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen, who’s also vice chair of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, says the committee learned it’s too risky a venture to contemplate while touring the country the past few months.cullen

“The committee has heard from experts in IT (information technology) that have told us it’s really hard to maintain security and not have hackers or people jamming the system,” he says.

“And as you can see in the US right now there’s a lot of fear of outside countries or just people wanting to mess with your voting system.”

He said that fear most certainly will dampen enthusiasm for voting online perhaps with just a few exceptions.

“Maybe in special cases, folks that have real mobility problems, Canadian military serving overseas, that kind of thing. But it would have to be pretty special circumstances.”

Cullen says adopting a system open to hackers could lead to electoral disaster.

“You can imagine on election night if the computers were to go down. Or, that if somebody hacked the system, experts tell us you often won’t figure out the hack until two years later,” he says.

“Well, you had a government in place that was falsely put there and two years have gong by? Some scenario that are just nightmares if you care about free and fair elections.”

Cullen adds with Yahoo losing half a billion email addresses last year – technology to combat hackers just isn’t there yet.

“And when it comes to our democracy it has to be sacred – the vote must be sacred and experts can’t seem to guarantee it yet and they don’t feel that’s coming anytime soon.”


You should still be able to go digital at the booth itself to save all that time counting.

Just so I’ve got this straight…. online voting is too risky because of security flaws, but doing our taxes and other Gov’t services online is safe and secure? You can’t have it both ways Mr. Cullen.

    The problems are quite different. One important way in which they are different is that you get feedback on your tax return or banking transactions. You can check on what the government thinks you sent it, or what the bank thinks you did, and you won’t have a problem telling appropriate people what you actually did. When you vote, you don’t have any way of finding out what was received at the other hand, and you may not want to disclose how you voted. Furthermore, we (the public) don’t want you to be able to prove how you voted because that would allow for bribery or coercion of voters.

There is no need for on line voting. Who asked for it.? Who wants it? and Who needs it?

Its no big deal to take a few minutes out of our **perceived** busy lives and go to vote in person. In fact it is a good way to celebrate our freedom in this Country.

    Exactly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Aggreed @Palopu! We should be proud to exercise the privilege.

      Why? It’s not like it matters. They adopt the same Con policies, no matter what party is in there.

There is just enough room for corruption in having people count votes, as proven in Clinton’s last nomination campaign against Sanders. Counting votes by hand means you can throw out voters who you deem ineligible to vote, just like crooked Hillary did to Bernie.

Online voting can totally be controlled with digital certificates and trusted computers. If it’s good enough to file taxes and send money, it is good enough to use for a vote.

    Once the ballots are in the ballot box, they are anonymous. How does hand-counting allow you to throw out the votes of those you deem ineligible to vote when you can’t tell whose vote is whose?

    Digital certificates and trusted computers are demonstrably not sufficient. There is a whole literature on this topic, including both theoretical studies and reports of experiments with real electronic voting machines. It does not lead to confidence in electronic voting.

If online voting were to improve the rate of participation in voting, it would be worth some additional risk. We should pilot online voting in a small area to get the bugs out and understand how to manage the additional risks, if any. It’s not like the NDP to advocate living in the past.

A relatively small scale example of on line voting is done by many credit unions. Each credit union has an annual election for a portion of its directors and many use on line voting. They have faced the hacking problem and have put in place firewall systems. I am sure some computer nerd will try to hack the credit union’s voting system, and I am sure the credit union will have their own computer nerd to preserve the validity of the vote.

    Imagine what a hacker could do with an entire federal voter list, all that personal info up for grabs, what is the price another country or company will pay for the complete information on 35 million people?

    And how much do Elections Canada cost us now, there will be more elections if governments only have minorities? Add in a few ITs per riding to combat hacking, the software costs alone will be in the 100s of millions as it will be proprietary. Those who design the system, will they add their own back doors? The list goes on and on, anything can be hacked, there just needs to be a reason for someone to hack it, big dollars for all your personal information address/birthdays/SIN/drivers license/health care/BCID all this information needs to be acessible by the program to verify your identity is a good incentive. How many people can vote for others? Older people relying on their care givers to do the right thing, etc? Can of worms

Take a ten minute break from Netflix and cast a ballot. I enjoy seeing community members and neighbours at the voting stations on Election Day. It gives me a sense of pride to watch other Canadians exercise their right to vote. There shouldn’t be any voting incentives for Canadians only compulsory voting accompanied with a fine for those who choose not to vote.

    That compulsory voting idea would be just fine if there was another item at the bottom of every ballot. “None of the Above”, with a place to put your “x” beside it.

    Sieg Heil. Now we have people advocating that people be forced to vote, even if they personally don’t want to. If your fines fail, what next? Jack booted election enforcers kicking your door in and dragging you to a voting booth?

And if someone hacks your bank account the bank will cover your loss. If the voting system is hacked and the wrong government elected by fraud what happens then. We just grin and bear it.

    Considering that all of them follow the same Con policies, regardless of party, it wouldn’t matter anyhow.

Just another way for the Conservative Party’s Pierre Poutine to cheat and alter the outcome of an election. Keep voting off-line!

Financial transactions are OK, but voting isn’t? If IT people think voting online isn’t safe then neither is banking or online shopping.

There is a huge difference between banking online and voting online..if you don’t know the difference you shouldn’t be posting on the subject ;)

    Point them out, pal. If you can’t secure online voting then you fundamentally cannot secure any online transaction. They are all hackable. That is essentially what these IT people are admitting: that any sort of online transaction is at its base unsafe.

      Here’s a simple example. Suppose that I hack into your bank’s computer system and change the software so that it diverts a certain percentage of a certain fraction of deposits to my account. Some of your money gets put into my account. You, or some other victim, will soon notice that there isn’t as much money in your account as there should be. You will complain about it, and the bank will look at the log of transactions and figure out that your money is in my account. It will correct the improper transaction, and the RCMP will begin to investigate me. The bank will reinstall its software and thereby over-ride my changes. The key thing is here that my victims will detect a problem.

      Suppose now that instead of hacking your bank’s computer system I hack the election system so that it falsely records a certain percentage of votes for, say, the Conservative candidate as votes for the NDP candidate. How will you know that I changed your vote? You can’t. Even if I change a fairly large percentage of votes and the outcome of the election is quite different from what polls predict, that won’t be definitive evidence of fraud, and in some cases I won’t need to change a very large percentage. This kind of fraud is very hard to detect and even harder to prove conclusively.

      Okay. That is a good example and more useful than someone saying don’t post like they are some bona fide expert on the dangers. I should have thought about that myself. Thanks for that.

Anyone interested in this topic really should read up on it. Computer security experts have devoted a lot of thought to it, and many of the problems are not obvious to those who haven’t. For a summary, I suggest a piece entitled “The Dangers of Internet Voting” which google will find for you at the Heritage Foundation web site. There is a whole lot of information in the evoting section of the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site. Also any of a number of articles and blog posts by Andrew Appel, a computer scientist at Princeton, or the article about him entitled “How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes”.

    Thanks for the reading referrals Bill.

      My pleasure.

Being I have spent 28 years in IT I concur. Really it would make it also to easy to vote anyways. Don’t need mass voting, we education for voters. Then the effort to go vote will come easier.

I am all for the paper ballot. I think the whole voting process with computers is a way to circumvent the democratic will of the people. I would like vote counting verification. I think it is essential in this day and age.

I also fully support the notion of a private vote as essential for the integrity of the democratic process.

So how do we get voter verification and a private vote? This is the real problem with our vote counting IMO.

Once I register at the polls to vote… it would be nice to have a random ballot that has an identical serial number which could be torn off and taken home… the ballot itself does not identify with the voter that casts the ballot, but the one that cast the ballot has a way to track if the vote was tabulated correctly online.

If a single voter goes online and sees that gee, I cast a ballot for ‘X’ and it got tabulated for ‘Y’… then we are alerted to either faulting vote counting; or out right voter fraud. Each voter would have the sole responsibility for the verification of their own vote… maybe a 24-hour window in which they could do so, after which pending no major issues the results become official.

People then can have faith that their democracy is secure and therefor worthy of further participation.

    For those who think that there is something wrong with the system, there will always be something wrong with the system.

    Example? TRUMP, he has been saying fraud from almost from the start.

    Now he want drug tests before the debate. Say Hillary calls his bluff and agrees. If he is found positive, he will call it rigged. If she is found negative, he will call it rigged.

    There is no way to force a person to accept, except for trusting the system.

    Neither Eagleone nor Trump trust the system. Then again, one or both may be playing the system.

      When it comes to the democratic process it should meet the highest standard. Infantile arguments to avoid accountability to transparency go against the very notion of sovereign democracy.

      Globalists just say trust us, trust us Osama BinLaden did it, trust us Iraq has weapons of mass destruction… Look at Ukraine and Lybia CIA inspired revolutions… And the ethnic cleansing in Syria and Iraq by globalist inspired and funded forces. They have a lot to answer for and we are all just supposed to trust them?

      I agree with Trump that the leader of the free world should be drug tested. The Clintons have notorious connections to coke in the past, and with the mystery illness of Hillery…. The leader of the free world should be free of any blackmail from addictions. The process to elect them should be of the highest standard no matter who is running.

      Drug tests ? Is this Orange Julius’ response because he sniffed through the whole first debate ? As crooked as Hillary may be….she is running against a total buffoon. America has never looked so pathetic, and this is a country that had George W. Bush for 8 years.

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