DALE McFEATTERS Internet voting is risky

Online voting via the Internet has a certain superficial appeal. It's quick, simple and the convenience of voting from home might draw more people into the democratic process.
But none of those positives outweigh the potential threat to honest elections. Internet voting is vulnerable to hackers, worms and viruses and there's no way to insure the integrity of the ballots.
That's why it's disturbing that the Pentagon seems determined to push ahead full bore with an Internet voting system for Americans overseas, both military and civilians, despite warnings from four computer security experts that the system is indeed vulnerable to hackers, terrorists, criminals and foreign governments. And, we would add, people who might want to fix the outcome of an election by stuffing the electronic ballot box.
So alarmed were these experts that they urged the system be scrapped immediately.
"Internet voting presents far too many opportunities for hackers or even terrorists to interfere with fair and accurate voting, potentially in ways impossible to detect," the experts said. And the planned Pentagon system in particular "has numerous other fundamental security problems that leave it vulnerable to a variety of well-known cyber attacks, any one of which could be catastrophic."
That's not real comforting, especially the part about an election being rigged without us ever knowing it.
The Pentagon insists it has taken these concerns into account and may use the system for absentee voting as early as the Feb. 3 South Carolina primary. So far seven states have signed up to have their expatriates vote online in this presidential election year.
Impressive credentials
The four computer security experts, all with impressive credentials, say that not only is this system vulnerable, it may be impossible, given current technology, to build an online system that isn't. "There really is no good way to build such a voting system without a radical change in the overall architecture of the Internet and the PC or some unforeseen security breakthrough."
There are 6 million Americans living overseas, more than enough to swing a national election, and as Florida in 2000 showed, it takes only a handful of votes. Internet voting is not worth the risk.
Scripps Howard News Service