Blowing the dust off voting

Unless you’re over the grand old age of 18, you won’t have ever voted in an election before. But when your time does come, it’s likely that you won’t be scribbling a cross on a slip of paper and then shoving it into a box. Voting is being dragged into the 21st century in a big way.

Several American states, have ditched the traditional ballot paper with touch-screen machines. You touch the screen by the name you support, then strike the vote button. No messing around. It’s a big hit with the elderly because it’s simpler to read and manage and there’s less chance of spoiling your vote. http://www.essvote.com/products/12/12/universal-voting-system/expressvote/

Not wanting to be outdone, Europeans have also been developing new ways of grabbing votes and opinions. Take France’s old head honcho, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was voted his party’s presidential candidate through people’s online clicks. And grateful he was too.

When it comes to web use, doubters are never far away. Some computer buffs reckon online voting is unprotected and open to being rigged. These same people say a false web page (that looks just like the real deal) could be put in place between users and the real server. So while thinking you’ve voted normally, you’ve actually been had and voted for someone else.

And that’s not the only thing to worry about. Mischief causing computer viruses are never far away. Take one particular offender that’s known to lurk inside computers, changing votes whenever they’re made. If that makes you break out into a cold sweat, how about this: some viruses are thought to automatically erase themselves once they’ve done their dirty deed – so they’ll never be detected. Is there an end to all their pranks?

In 2004, the American Pentagon’s experiment with online voting, known as
SERVE (Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment), was ripped to pieces by a panel of defense and cyber-security experts. Their advice? To wait until web security cleaned up its act. Sounds like good advice to us.
Read about SERVE here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3419775.stm
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