It will be a disaster for our democracy.
I started this as a reply to Kos' diary Internet voting SHOULD terrify Republicans but it got too long and so I morphed it into a diary... (it's been awhile since I've done that, but this topic is one I'm passionate about)
Sorry Kos, you are simply wrong if you think this should take place:
Internet voting will eventually happen. It'll begin with a few brave tests (a 2010 test in DC failed), and someone will figure it out. And then a (Blue) state will adopt it. I nominate California. And then more (Blue) states will adopt it. And it will be glorious. And if demographic trends haven't already done the GOP in, true universal voting will.
We live in an extremely dangerous (cyber) world.
I have worked in the computer industry for just under 40 years. I have worked in security for nearly the last 20. I am very good at what I do (I have the rather pretentious title of "Distinguished Engineer" working for a very large industry vendor). I work with extremely talented teams, both within and outside my company, that are some of the best in the world at fighting cybercrime. We are regularly put on the front line of evaluating and analyzing in-progress cyber attacks and developing and implementing quick mitigation and counter-attack strategies. I use my skills and understanding of the threats and vulnerabilities gleaned from this work to design new and better hardware and software systems to fight this war.
Our adversaries run the gamut from stupid script-kiddies working out of their mom's basement (these are swatted away very easily these days) to organized crime syndicates to foreign nation-state military cyber-warfare units. The battles with these determined adversaries always has been and always will be a game of leap frog. Security researchers, entrepreneurs, architects, etc. come up with new and better ways to secure systems and fight the attackers. Then the attackers find new, more creative, and even more dangerous ways to break through. Even the most advanced, most secure systems in the world get hacked.
I am also as true-blue liberal as you'll find. I am outraged at the way our election system has been corrupted thru gerrymandering, thru voter suppression techniques such as cutting voting hours/locations, and thru ever-more demanding voter id requirements, etc. I believe the only way we will take back this nation from the plutocracy that controls it today is to fight back (somehow) in the media war, shine the light on the real motivations behind their war on our democracy, and to expand the reach of our true messages and significantly increase turnout in elections.
But the one thing that will not get my support to increase turnout for a VERY long time to come, if ever, is internet voting. It simply cannot be made sufficiently secure to ensure that monied interests or foreign governments cannot subvert it in ways that no one will detect until it is FAR too late. There is simply not enough money or technology solutions on the horizon to make it happen.
Those that think that because we now bank online, trade our stocks, etc. in relative security that we can put together a system that cannot be subverted on a large scale are very naive. I do personal financial transactions on the web (probably with more caution than most people, however), but I would cry for our country if internet voting happens the way Kos suggests.
And it is not just me... opposition to this idea this is extremely apolitical - the many security experts I know in the industry range from very liberal to very conservative. I know of NONE of them that believe this would be a good idea.
I encourage everyone to read more about the challenges and dangers of this idea. A starting point is here: Computer Technologists’ Statement on Internet Voting.
A more detailed, excellent exploration of the risks is presented in an article published by the Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), the leading publication for the computing and information technology fields. Please read: Internet Voting in the U.S.. It includes a good discussion of why the 2010 D.C. pilot that Kos mentioned failed and looks at several other efforts that have been worked on.
Yes, new security mechanisms are constantly being developed and SOMEDAY, perhaps the security of a verifiable internet voting scheme can be provably demonstrated to be "secure enough" to make this possible. But rest assured, that day is a VERY long time off. As the ACM article points out, building a trustworthy internet voting solution "would require solving some of the most intractable problems in cybersecurity". Solving those problems are years if not decades away (if they ever happen at all).
I beg all of you to not accept the idea of internet voting as a possible solution to expanding the participation rate in our elections. Indeed, we need to fight such efforts for the foreseeable future.