Response to Ian Apperly regarding Online Voting

My response to Ian's blog post supporting online voting:

Ian, online voting's been trialed in dozens of places around the world. The fact is that it's been found to have actually failed, or probably failed, everywhere. I say they "probably failed" because the online voting system was unable to record the failure because with software you can't record what you didn't anticipate, and by definition, security vulnerabilities are unanticipated - that doesn't breed confidence in a system whose use depends on public confidence.

Your suggestion that we in NZ will somehow succeed with online voting where far better resourced (and, frankly, probably smarter and more qualified) people elsewhere in the world... smacks of bravado and, well, breathless blind faith.

The oft quoted online voting "success stories" like Estonia, are the places where the politicians have wilfully failed to heed the technologists whose advice they've requested. They've persevered in the face of opposition by technologists who've said to them what I've been saying: the systems *cannot* be made secure. Note, most of the people (75% of voters) in Estonia shun the online system because they don't trust it. It hasn't increase voter participation - if anything online voting further disenfranchises those who don't vote. There're plenty  of other articles about the so-called "E-stonian" online voting success story...

There's no point in trialing online voting here in NZ, because it simply a bad idea. Accepting that will save us all a lot of money and grief, and allow us to invest our energy in the real problem: actually improving voter engagement rather than gratifying some armchair technophile's pipe dream.

Also, it's a bit rich referring to the people who work to define the state-of-the-art in IT as "Luddites". They are, almost by definition, not. Making that accusation comes across as pretty shrill, and rather silly.

I think it's more appropriate to recognise that responsible and mature technologists accept that a technical solution isn't always the best approach. Moreover, in a situation like online voting, human factors are the greatest source of intractability - people simply don't "get" IT security - we're not ready.

No comment...

I've suspended commenting on this site because I'm not happy with the proprietary Disqus platform I have been using as it is antithetical to much of the site's content and my own stated positions.

I originally chose Disqus because it helped to minimise the spam commenting that, previously, required a lot of administration time. I justified its use based on the idea that I always use Free and Open Source Software if a viable option exists in a particular domain. I haven't yet found something comparable that works with Drupal... but still, the cognitive dissonance of requiring people wanting to comment on my posts to sacrifice their freedom to do so became too onerous.

If you have a comment (or a suggestion on a Drupal 7-friendly, spam resistant commenting process with good admin and commenter notification recipes! - I recently tried isso, and it's cool, but sadly, not well suited to Drupal, although given it's open source, I might have a go at changing that) - get in touch!