An interesting article appeared Monday in the TechDirt community, keyed by Timothy Lee, discussing a point I’ve tried to make before and undoubtedly will try to make in the future. This point, nicely discussed by Tim, is about the distinction between e-voting and e-commerce.
Many have complained that they "can’t understand if so many billions of dollars are transacted securely across the Internet, why our ballots cannot be cast securely across the Internet as well." There is an explanation for that, but actually, the Internet is not the best vehicle to explain why digitally transacting votes and dollars are different. [Ed Note: The use of the Internet as a transport medium for vote casting will be discussed in this blog and elsewhere, but not in this post.]
A better angle is the analogy to another "digital commerce" device: Bank ATMs. I submit this is a more relevant vehicle, because no precinct I know of is using the Internet to real-time dynamically transact voting. There may be a couple of locations possibly performing bulk transfer of statistics and totals, and others providing ex-patriot voting services overseas such as this project but that’s all. The Internet is not as much a "real world" comparison as is a bank ATM. We all can visualize a digital voting machine and a bank ATM.
And Tim does a nice job of explaining why a bank ATM and a "vote ATM" are different animals [Ed Note: I take editorial liberty to define the "T" here to be "transaction" rather than the typical "teller" definition]. In the end, regardless of medium, e-voting is different from e-banking. Read his post and note my clarifying comment.
We’ll discuss more about the often missed security and privacy distinctions between a digital money transaction and digital vote transaction — particularly in the Internet setting — as we proceed.