Cybersecurity expert tells NV about three problems with e-voting

14 January 2022, 01:03 AM

There are three main problems to deal with when implementing an electronic voting or e-voting system, cybersecurity expert Kostiantyn Korsun said on Jan. 12 in a comment to the Novoye Vremya weekly news magazine.

E-voting was one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s campaign planks during the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, and the head of state reiterated his desire to introduce e-voting during a speech made a year after his victory.

However, e-voting makes it impossible to establish whether a voter has been forced to vote against their will, he said.

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In Estonia, for example, this issue is resolved by allowing voters to vote several times, with only the final vote being counted. Yet Korsun believes that this does not eliminate avenues for abuse.

“For example, the commander of a military unit gathers subordinates an hour before the end of online voting,” Korsun explained.

“Everyone votes, their smartphones are taken away and returned back an hour later, and then they are monitored in order to ensure they vote as required.”

This example demonstrates the existence of another problem, namely ensuring the concept of a secret ballot.

In addition, it is impossible to check the results of such elections: whether all the votes are taken into account, whether they are correctly counted and whether they are given for a particular candidate, the cybersecurity expert said.

Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Oleksiy Vyskub, believes there are approaches that can resolve these problems. The question is – which of them will be the most suitable for Ukraine?

“The legislative choice is more political,” said Vyskub.

“A technical option can be implemented after the political choice is made.”

Speaking at a press marathon in 2021, President Zelensky said that online voting could be conducted simultaneously with a typical paper voting system, though he said a definite date for this simultaneous system has yet to be decided.

He added that Ukrainian representatives, together with international tech companies Microsoft and Apple, are already working on these issues.

On the other hand, members of Zelensky’s own party, including the Chairman of the Zelensky-founded Servant of the People parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia, have stated their belief that fully online elections would be impossible to hold in Ukraine.

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