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FIPR Press Release - FIPR warns of e-voting risks
FOR IMMEDIATE USE : 1 May 2003
Internet think-tank the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) has warned that electronic voting systems such as those being trialled in today's local government elections may lead to major problems, and could severely damage the public's confidence in the electoral process.
The UK government plans to introduce e-voting in the general election after next. FIPR believes it is vital for the democratic process that this is done in a safe and secure way that commands the trust of the UK's voters.
FIPR warned that election integrity can be assured only if e-voting machines produce a paper audit trail that can be verified by voters and later by election scrutineers. This is not the case when votes are cast from telephones or insecure home PCs, as in the trials taking place in 18 local authorities during today's local elections. Voting machines must be squarely under the control of local election officials, who have a better chance of ensuring they are free from viruses or other malicious software that might monitor and corrupt a user's vote.
Without these precautions, it will be impossible to prove afterwards that an election was carried out correctly. If problems occur, levels of public mistrust could make Florida voters' worries about "hanging chad" look trivial.
FIPR Director Dr. Ian Brown said: "We don't think voters should need a PhD to understand the security of our voting system. The only safe way to allow electronic voting is through machines controlled by election officials that produce an auditable paper trail. Anything else is an invitation for fraud to hackers and virus writers around the world, and could destroy public confidence in our elections."
FIPR Chair Dr. Ross Anderson commented: "It's always a bad idea to look for technical fixes to social problems. Election turnout would be increased if citizens were convinced their vote would make a difference. Simply computerising the current system is unlikely to achieve this."
Contact for enquiries:
Ian Brown Director Foundation for Information Policy Research email@example.com 07970 164 526 (from outside the UK: +44 7970 164 526)
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