Blog

  • Blockchain Voting: An imminent threat to democracy

    By Josh Greenbaum, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Vote Foundation

    So-called “blockchain voting” systems are exceedingly risky and vulnerable to a host of dangerous cybersecurity attacks. The growing hype around the implementation of this technology in elections is a distraction from fundamental election issues that beg for common sense solutions and resources to improve US election systems. Instead of working to solve this existing landscape of issues surrounding secure, verifiable, and auditable voting for all citizens, private companies and individuals are hyping an unknown and unproven technology that is more of a grifter’s dream than anything that could truly alleviate the many roadblocks that exist in our electoral systems.

    In addition to providing an unwelcome distraction from the real work needed to help secure our voting systems from a variety of threats, the reality is that blockchain voting systems are at best no more secure than any other type of web-based voting system, which themselves are rife with security and integrity issues. Indeed, blockchain voting systems are vulnerable to a multitude of profoundly serious threats that could easily allow cyber-attackers to control the outcome of an election. The potential for fraud and malfeasance makes blockchain voting a grave national security danger to our voting systems.

  • Blockchains for Voting: An idea whose time will never come

    Blog Source: Election Law Blog posted by Rick Hasen (https://electionlawblog.org/?p=104265)

    By Duncan Buell, NCR Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Carolina and Advisor to U.S. Vote Foundation

    If you were to ask computing and election security experts for the two things they would most strongly oppose when it comes to elections, nearly all would probably answer: Internet voting and the use of blockchains in elections. There is nearly universal agreement that the Internet today is not sufficiently secure for something as important as elections, and that making it secure will be very hard indeed.
     
    Not only do blockchains add no value to the election process; blockchains actually introduce new vulnerabilities to the voting process. Nonetheless, several startup companies are promoting Internet voting and claiming their use of blockchains is a benefit. Not surprisingly, it seems that no purveyor of blockchain voting is willing to allow independent testing by experts to see if their claims are justified.
     
    The Internet, in general, is not a place for elections.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to authenticate a person attempting to vote over the Internet. It is impossible to guarantee that the voter’s computer has not been infected with malware. It is impossible to guarantee that a denial-of-service attack won’t take place. And it is impossible in current systems and those likely to be available in the near future to produce votes that can be audited without stripping out the voters’ right to a secret ballot.

  • Round Two: a visually-impaired voter tells her latest story

    by Pauline Ugalde - Second in a Series

    Reflecting on the 2018 mid-term elections, I decided to write about how I felt my experience as a visually-impaired voter impacted my voting rights. Furthermore, how it complicated what should be a simple process, what my observations were, what feedback I could give, and finally, to compare it to the process of voting in the 2016 elections.

    As in the last election, I traveled to my closest voting precinct to vote instead of voting by mail. I was optimistic about the prospect of using the audio-based voting machines. I hoped that they had been improved since 2016, or even better, replaced with machines that use the same accessibility technology that visually-impaired people use in their daily lives. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

  • Turnout in Local Elections: Is Timing Really Everything?

    This ABSTRACT of the original article, Turnout in Local Elections: Is Timing Really Everything? by Melissa Marschall and John Lappie in the Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy Vol. 17, No. 3 copyright and published by Mary Ann Liebert Publishers, Inc. The complete article is available here https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/elj.2017.0462

    Though it is often assumed that U.S. local elections are uniformly low turnout events, there is actually considerable variation across space and time. Building on literature on local turnout and broader theories of political participation, this study examines more than 1,000 California mayoral elections held between 1995 and 2014. We analyze how two specific features of the local electoral context—election timing and contestation—provide information, stimulate interest, mobilize voters, and ultimately shape turnout. We argue that high turnout may not mean much if voters have no decisions to make and explore the possibility that the effects of contestation may vary depending on whether elections are held off- or on-cycle.

  • GoVoteBot is back for the 2018 Midterm elections!

    Dear Readers - US Vote is proud to feature this blog from one of the best civic tech solutions developers we've had the honor to meet: R/GA and their brilliant team.

    Every American has their own highly-personal reasons for voting. Whether health, family, safety, income, or education, we aren’t voting for politicians, we’re voting for our personal interests and ideals. Despite our polarized reasons, many voters struggle with figuring out how to vote. It’s hard! America’s electoral system is complex, nuanced, and very frustrating.

    R/GA’s challenge? To create a solution that allows everyone (everywhere) to vote for whatever it is they want using a non-partisan campaign that keeps everyone’s pre-election concerns in mind.

  • The Widget Hits the World: Greenback Expat Tax Launches Overseas Voter Ballot Request

    By Carrie McKeegan, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services

    Greenback Expat Tax Services is proud to partner with Overseas Vote Foundation and help boost expat voter registrations amongst Americans living abroad. We care deeply about all the issues expats face – not just taxes – so partnering with Overseas Vote is another way Greenback upholds its commitment to serving and advocating for the 9 million expats around the world.

    We believe that US expatriates are passionate about the US and care deeply about its future. In our 2018 US Expat Survey, which received input from 3,800+ US expats around the world, we found that 63.7% of Americans living abroad planned to vote in the November elections. These votes could play an important role because many states are won in too-close-to-call elections. American expats have a profound influence on the outcomes. With so many tax changes coming down the pike, it's crucial that expats rock the vote!

  • The voting process from a unique perspective: a first-time, visually-impaired voter tells her story

    By Pauline Ugalde

    The midterm election season is about to peak and I would like to address the voting process from a unique perspective: that of a first-time, visually-impaired voter and how that initial experience informs my decision to vote again in the upcoming midterm election.

    Over the years, I have noticed how people have primarily focused on the mechanical, physical process of voting versus a voter’s individual voting experience, let alone why they vote, or the emotions invoked by participating in this act which makes the United States a democratic nation. I intend to address the accessibility of preexisting voting systems and the emotions surrounding the occasion. In short: my reasons for voting profoundly affected my reactions to the act of voting itself.

  • The Myth of “Secure” Blockchain Voting

    by David Jefferson, Verified Voting[1]

    In the last couple of years several startup companies have begun to promote Internet voting systems, this time with a new twist – using a blockchain as the container for voted ballots transmitted from voters’ private devices. Blockchains are a relatively new system category somewhat akin to a distributed database. Proponents promote them as a revolutionary innovation providing strong security guarantees that can render online elections safe from cyberattack.

    Unfortunately, such claims are false. Although the subject of considerable hype, blockchains do not offer any real security from cyberattacks. Like other online elections architectures, a blockchain election is vulnerable to a long list of threats that would leave it exposed to hacking and manipulation by anyone on the Internet, and the attack might never be detected or corrected.

    In its recent report[2], “Securing the Vote – Protecting American Democracy” the National Academy of Sciences summarized its findings:

    Conducting secure and credible Internet elections will require substantial scientific advances.

    The use of blockchains in an election scenario would do little to address the major security requirements of voting, such as voter verifiability. The security contributions offered by blockchains are better obtained by other means. In the particular case of Internet voting, blockchain methods do not redress the security issues associated with Internet voting.

    In this short paper we attempt to explain why blockchains cannot deliver the security guarantees required for safe online elections. But the summary is simple: Most of the serious vulnerabilities threaten the integrity and secrecy of voting before the ballots ever reach the blockchain.

  • Special Feature: theSkimm Launches No Excuses Campaign powered by US Vote Civic Data

    Whoosh! theSkimm has hit the accelerator with their NoExcuses campaign.

    In their own words, No Excuses is "theSkimm's nonpartisan campaign aiming to get 100,000 people to vote in the midterm elections. We're not here to tell you who to vote for, we just want to make sure that you vote. Because democracy." And that about says it all.

    When you click into No Excuses, and choose your state, you are instantly served the election dates and deadlines that you need to know about to effectively participate in the 2018 Midterm Election.

    We won't hide it: U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) is very proud to be the Civic Data source that is powering this great service and this tremendous outreach campaign. Our goal at US Vote is to enable election and voting innovators who are creating exactly these sorts of interactive tools and services for voters, to use the best and most relevant civic data available.

    US Vote's Civic Data API does that part. And theSkimm is bringing it forward. What they say is: "This year, there are literally no excuses." Now that is something we can all agree on!

  • Just 7% of Overseas Voters Voted in 2016

    by Andee Goldman, Regional Outreach, Israel, Overseas Vote Initiative

    Approximately 7% of eligible American overseas voters returned their ballots in the 2016 General Election. That's right. Just 7%.

    It's a tiny improvement over the 4% level last reported, which we also found quite disappointing

    The Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) most recent Overseas Citiizens Population Analysis (OCPA report) cites "obstacles" to the overseas voting process as the reason for this low participation - an opinion that Overseas Vote does not share with the agency.  Overseas voters have many streamlined processes, like the facility of receiving their ballots online, that make overseas voting easier than ever. And our research shows exceedingly high satisfaction rates from overseas voters who do participate. Rather than cast blame and make excuses for poor results, we think it would be better to start thinking out-of-the-box, team-up and do more effective outreach, or enable Overseas Vote to do so.

    Were you one of the American voters who did not vote? Your vote was missed! Per the OCPA report, the “top 10” countries from which overseas voters are voting are Canada, UK, Mexico, France, Japan, Australia, Israel, Germany, Italy, and South Korea.

    "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." Franklin D. Roosevelt

    With less than 2 months remaining to vote in the U.S. Midterm Elections, now is the time to act! This election will decide the composition and balance of power within Congress. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested.

    YOU are eligible to vote: if you are a US citizen, over 18 years on election day. Voting is based on where you last lived in the United States, or if born overseas where your parents last lived.