A bill moving through the legislature would expand online voting in California; online voting has been rejected as “high risk” by the Department of Homeland Security

Sacramento, June 16, 2022 – More than two dozen leading computer security experts are urging California lawmakers “in the strongest possible terms” to reject legislation that would allow voters with disabilities to cast ballots over the Internet, because ballots cast over the Internet cannot be made secure or trustworthy.

Last month, SB 1480 (Glazer) passed the California Senate and the bill is now slated for a Committee hearing in the Assembly June 29th. SB 1480 would allow voters with disabilities to cast ballots by facsimile, or an online voting system if one is certified by the Secretary of State. The scientists point out that today’s telephonic networks include Internet pathways, so that ballots cast by facsimile will be sent over the Internet. 

The letter warns: “Sending voted ballots over the Internet, by facsimile, electronic ballot return system, or any other means, creates profound, dangerous, and currently unsolvable security vulnerabilities. Put simply, online voting is unacceptably insecure for public elections…SB 1480 would exponentially increase the number of ballots that could be transmitted over the Internet, profoundly weakening the security and integrity of California’s elections.”

Citing studies and conclusions from multiple federal security agencies, the letter states: “Online voting has been rejected as unacceptably insecure by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Among computer scientists, national election security experts and federal security agencies, there is no debate: online voting cannot be adequately secured for governmental elections.” 

The experts highlight the fact that election systems are designated as critical infrastructure and must be treated as a national security asset, and that cyber threats to election systems have escalated because of the conflict in Ukraine. 

The letter urges lawmakers to seek other accessible voting methods to improve voting options for voters with disabilities, but that Internet voting is not the answer. 

“Confidence in our elections – the bedrock of our democracy – is under attack,” said Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Advisor for Election Security at Free Speech For People, the organization that coordinated the letter. “Election officials can prove the legitimacy of election outcomes with firm evidence of voter intent when ballots are cast on voter-verified paper ballots. SB 1480 would send California backwards to allow unverified electronic ballots, cast insecurely over the Internet, which cannot provide that evidence. Now is not the time to be weakening our democracy by adopting insecure, untrustworthy, and unverifiable voting methods.” 

Read the letter here.