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In 2011, nearly a quarter (24.3%) of participating voters in Estonia cast their ballot by remote electronic voting (that is, on their computer/phone/tablet via the Internet).

Several larger countries, including the United Kingdom (63M), France (65M), and the United States (312M) have experimented with the idea of Internet voting, but most applications are experimental or limited in scope.

According to the Caltech/MIT voting technology project, Estonia’s success is in part due to:

  • Widespread Internet penetration

  • A legal structure that addresses Internet voting issues

  • An identification system that allows for digital authentication of the voter

  • A political culture supportive of Internet voting

But, referring to United States problems, Ron Rivest, a computer scientist and cryptography expert at MIT, claimed:

We don't have the technology yet to do this in a secure way, and we may not for a decade or more.

What are the facts?

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He probably meant that the technology hasn't been chosen and implemented ("don't have" as in "I'm not holding it right now"), not that the technology doesn't exist ("don't have" as in "we need to invent it first"). Clearly, there are any number of technologies that could be used to vote in a manner that is as secure as absentee voting, we just haven't settled on one and rolled it out (and we're unlikely to; I think his estimate of a decade is very optimistic). – Tacroy Dec 22 '12 at 0:01
@Tacroy: No, Rivest has been vocal against Internet voting for security/trust reasons. For example See entry 281, Thoughts On Appropriate Technologies for Voting, in his bibliography on this home page for slides/video/etc. – Oddthinking Dec 22 '12 at 0:08
Thank you for the suggestion @Odd, but it is already difficult to find the courage to ask questions and to express what I really want, imagine to clarify the reasons. However, I try communicating with others as clearly as I can to avoid misunderstandings. Neverthless, surely I have to work on this matter, as well. – Carlo Alterego Dec 22 '12 at 0:34
We haven't even implemented secure paper voting. – Muhd Dec 22 '12 at 0:48
I don’t understand this discussion / question at all to be honest: internet voting isn’t a question of technology of security. It’s simply that internet voting could never be guaranteed to be a secret vote, and as a consequence it wouldn’t be a legitimate democratic vote. This doesn’t change even once all security aspects are solved. Period. – Konrad Rudolph Dec 22 '12 at 13:45

The cited Caltech/MIT paper explains at least one impediment to Internet voting in the USA:

A third lesson regards voter authentication, which is the subject of debate in many nations, including the United States. In Estonia, the introduction and dissemination of their digital national identification card has opened the door for many uses of that identification, uses that pre-date the implementation of Internet voting in Estonia. In other words, having a strong form of online voter authentication may be a critical step for implementation of secure Internet voting that has the trust of voters and other stakeholders in a particular nation’s election process.
But it is unlikely that a strong form of voter authentication like that used in Estonia will be developed only for Internet voting; rather, it is likely that governments will develop and implement these forms of strong digital identification to enable citizens to interact with government in other ways: paying fines, fees and taxes; checking out library books; or researching property transactions.

It is a reasonable for Rivest to give a loose estimate of at least a decade for a robust national identification scheme to be introduced into the United States, especially given the political pushback it is likely to cause (for example: Australia Card was a similar proposal.)

I do not believe this is the only limitation against secure Internet voting, but it suffices for this answer.

(Rivest includes other reasons in, for example, his slides Thoughts On Appropriate Technologies for Voting, including that Internet voting isn't trust-worthy enough to convince losers they really lost, they can't guarantee secret ballots, they can't prove a chain of custody, real software is likely to contain security flaws, they are at risk of insider attacks, etc.)

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