Expert says Liberal’s voting system could be “laughably insecure”

by Jack Locke

As the Liberal Party of Canada prepares to hold their leadership vote starting on April 7, a leading American computer expert is casting doubts on the integrity of the Liberal’s high-tech voting system.

The Liberals will be using an internet system designed by Dominion Voting, a Colorado-based company. They will also be using a telephone voting system.

Andrew Appel, chair of Princeton University’s Department of Computer Science, says he would not endorse Internet voting for public office.

“Any known methods for public Internet voting are known to be very seriously flawed,” says Appel. He is also the Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Princeton.

“Even if we consider an idealized system, the vendor itself ends up having total control over who wins the election. We might hope the vendor writes software that adds up the tally according to how people actually voted, but there may not be a practical way to check that,” he notes.

According to Liberal president Mike Crawley, 130,744 people are registered to vote in the week-long voting period culminating on Apr 14. Questions asked of the Liberal Party related to the integrity of the voting system have not yet been answered.

Appel says Internet voting systems can be infiltrated on both the voters’ side and on the vote counter’s side.

“Voter’s personal computers/smart phones can be taken over by botnets (computer viruses) which change their votes before transmission to the server,” says Appel, who is familiar with Dominion Voting, the company the Liberals have engaged to conduct the I-voting.

He suggests maintaining voter privacy, ensuring secret ballots, is also a major concern.

“Although vendors talk about idealized security where (supposedly) all kinds of security measures are in place, in actual practice in real election administration these systems are laughably insecure,” says Appel.

The repercussions of someone tampering with the Liberal leadership results could alter the course of our nation. The winner of the Liberal leadership contest could ultimately become Prime Minister of Canada.

“When Canadians vote on paper ballots counted in front of witnesses, then your citizens don’t have to place all (their) trust in a Colorado company,” Professor Appel concludes.

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2 Responses to “Expert says Liberal’s voting system could be “laughably insecure””

  1. Ooops. Liberal voter numbers don’t add up | Lockeblog Says:

    […] Lockeblog reported that Princeton University computing science expert, Andrew Appel, said online voting is […]

  2. Will Cyber-iceberg Sink The Liberal’s Ship? | Lockeblog Says:

    […] © Jack Locke 2010. All rights reserved. « Expert says Liberal’s voting system could be “laughably insecure” […]

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