IL House may consider Internet voting

Even in light of security problems with e-voting, one legislator wants to study where Internet voting is ready for prime time.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

With all of the controversy over the insecurity of physical e-voting machines and a backlash move towards paper ballots, you'd think the last thing on anyone's agenda would be Internet voting, with all of the security issues that raises.

But that's one Illinois legislator wants to investigate. State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, has filed a bill calling for the state to study the idea, and possibly use Internet voting in Illinois elections as early as the 2010 gubernatorial race, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

There are several cases of successful Internet voting, the paper says.

Michigan, as recently as 2004, allowed online voting in its Democratic presidential caucus. The result was the second-biggest caucus turnout ever of 164,000 votes, 46,000 of which were cast online. More importantly, there were no reports of security glitches, fraud or intimidation, according to Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Jason Moon.

And Arizona used Internet voting in its Democratic primary in 2000. For that one, computer hackers, hired by the company running the primary to see if they could break into the system, were able to shut down the website for 60 seconds.

Such an idea flies in the face of centuries of physical polling places, but he growth in mail-in absentee voting is starting to change that.

Madison County Clerk Mark Von Nida worries about the privacy lost when voting is taken away from monitored polling places. "When you open up voting (by computer), you open up the possibility of people having to vote in front of their boss, or their union boss, just to prove that it's done," he said. "And of course, (the vote) would be (cast) in a way that's how the person who coerced them wanted them to vote."

Fine, says Lang, if we find out it can't be made secure, there's no need to go further, but the benefits of online voting - increased participation, ease of use, improved overseas voting and elimination of paper problems - means it should at least be investigated.

"If we find through this committee that we can't ensure safety and security, I don't think we should go to the next step." Lang said he is confident that he will get the support he needs in the House, though he has not yet discussed the bill with House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who controls which bills are called for a vote.
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