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California Internet Voting Task Force Report

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Citation Edit

California Internet Voting Task Force Report (2000) (full-text).

Overview Edit

In January 2000, the California Internet Voting Task Force released its report on the feasibility of using the Internet to conduct California elections. The report concluded that Internet voting would allow increased access to the voting process for millions of potential voters who did not currently participate in California elections. The Task Force, however, did not recommend immediately implementation of Internet voting in California. The report stated that technological threats to the security, integrity and secrecy of Internet voting were significant, and that the danger of potential attacks on home and office computers, though preventable, were considerable. The Task Force concluded the best approach was one that was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It recommended implementing Internet voting in four stages.

The first stage called for Internet voting in supervised polling locations. This stage would allow the voter to use an Internet voting machine instead of a paper ballot, though the voter would be required to vote from their home precinct. Election officials would be responsible for providing secure Internet access. This first stage would not offer the convenience of remote internet voting, but would allow the integrity of the voting and tabulation technology to be verified through the Internet voting machines.

The second stage would be similar to the first stage, but voters would not be required to cast their ballot at their home precinct. Voters could cast their ballots using any Internet voting machine within their county. This stage would allow voters the convenience of casting their ballots on Election Day even if they are unable to visit their home polling place. Voting locations would not be limited to traditional polling locations, and would include places like malls, office buildings, and schools.

The third stage would permit voters to cast their ballots at any number of unsupervised Internet voting machines. The Internet voting machines would have to be secured from tampering and have access to nearby technical assistance. This stage would allow the convenience of voting around the clock and in advance of Election Day. Since election officials would not be present at this stage to verify the identity of voters, an electronic authentication ("PIN") would be required.

The fourth an final stage would allow voters to engage in remote internet voting. Voters would use a county-provided authentication method to verify their identity and cast their ballot from virtually any computer with Internet access. This authentication process would have to provide at least the same level of security as the existing voting process in California.

The Task Force concluded that, though possible, it was not practical or fiscally feasible to develop a remote internet voting system that would completely replace the paper process used for voter registration and voting. The Task Force stated that the opportunity to cast Internet ballots must be accessible to all potential voters, which included low income voters whose only access to the Internet would be through public access terminals. In short, the goal of Internet voting was to provide increased access to voting locations, resulting in greater participation in the democratic process. The voting process, however, required an extremely high level of security to maintain the integrity of the democratic system.

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