Coronavirus boosts push for online voting despite security risks

The modest increase in internet voting is yet another example of how the pandemic has upended priorities across the United States, four years after Russian hacking inspired a nationwide effort to deploy more secure, paper-based voting machines. Now, the virus is turning in-person voting into a health risk — and some election officials are exploring online voting as one alternative, despite extensive warnings from cybersecurity experts that the technology poses dangers no one has been able to solve.

“I hope that other states will exercise caution rather than jumping on the bandwagon,” said Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University who helps draft federal voting-system standards. “We need to defend our elections against nation-state adversaries. Moving toward online voting is the wrong direction to defend our democracy.”

Lawrence Norden, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s election reform program, added, “While I understand the temptation, particularly when vendors are pushing this solution and election officials are under tremendous strain, we must resist it.”