Online Voting, Security, and Privacy

This week in Freshwoman Seminar 50, we’re talking about the Internet and politics. My favorite of the topics is Internet voting. It’s an exciting idea: lower costs, better turnout, no ambiguity (a la Florida 2000), and a much more efficient system overall. So what’s the holdup?

Well, security. There are opportunities for fraud, both on the scale of individual votes and in databases of stored votes. In other online fraud situations, like credit card and bank fraud, resolution of the situation is based in a firm understanding of your identity. Voting is supposed to be anonymous, so there’s no record of your vote. This makes sorting out fraud much more difficult.

But what if the vote wasn’t anonymous? What if there was a record in a database somewhere that has your identity attached to your vote? You wouldn’t be able to access the official record (so you can’t sell your vote), nor would anyone else, so for most intents and purposes it would be anonymous. And yet in the case of fraud there would be a record who voted which way, making the situation more easily rectifiable.

But then important information about you is sitting in a database somewhere? Doesn’t that give up a huge amount of privacy? I wonder if there are other debates like this going on *cough* Facebook *cough* Google *cough*. There is already a huge amount of data about you stored in databases, and used in less kosher ways (sold to advertising companies) than the government would use it (do nothing). In fact, likelihood is there’s enough data about you on the Internet to tell who you’re going to vote for. It’s possible that the fact that this data exists is bad, and we should be undertaking efforts to limit the amount of personal information out there. However, I expect that because people are becoming more nonchalant about their personal information being out there, they will care less about voter anonymity in the future. Perhaps this is how online voting will come about.


  1. Mike Smith

    October 26, 2016 @ 4:37 pm


    One way you might start thinking deeper about your question concerning a government-held database of stored votes connected to your identity is to read about The Privacy Act of 1974. See

    for more details. You’ve suggested that individuals wouldn’t be able to access their own official record. That’s been a no-no in our country, where we grew up as a nation not wanted to trust the government too much.

  2. school of applied science

    November 3, 2016 @ 11:18 am


    There’s certainly a lot to find out about this subject.
    I really like all the points you made.

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