New Berkeley Report Prompts Call for Deep-Pocketed App Promoter to Scrap Vulnerable Online Voting Plans

 “We urge those who have been pushing internet voting to heed the report’s recommendations and shift their focus to other ways of making voting more accessible.”

Today, the University of California Berkeley Center For Security in Politics issued a statement reporting on the conclusions of a Working Group convened with funding from Tusk Philanthropies to develop standards that would ensure internet voting can be secure and private. The Working Group concluded that it could not issue such standards, stating “the current cybersecurity environment and state of technology make it infeasible for the Working Group to draft responsible standards to support the use of internet ballot return in U.S. public elections at this time.”

Uber millionaire Bradley Tusk, who backed the study, has advocated voting by mobile phone for years. He has committed to spending $10 million to develop a mobile voting product, which would transmit ballots over the internet. Tusk Philanthropies has said that developers of the mobile voting product “will adhere to recommendations” in the Berkeley report. (Tweet here.)

Today’s statement adds to the strong consensus echoed by government agencies that internet voting is inherently insecure, and will make US elections fundamentally untrustworthy and insecure as votes can be deleted or changed at scale. These systems also all present privacy risks to voters.

“This report carefully details the persistent problems with online voting, and it thoughtfully explains the challenges that make internet voting an insecure method of conducting elections,” said Common Cause Director of Election Security Susannah Goodman. “Even with new technological developments, online voting remains vulnerable to hacking. We urge those who have been pushing internet voting to heed the report’s recommendations and shift their focus to other ways of making voting more accessible.”

“There are so many ways to improve voting accessibility and voting participation that don’t create security holes in our election systems,” Goodman said. “This is not the time to push for a voting system that has clear security vulnerabilities.”

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released a series of suggested improvements in its March 2022 report “Promoting Access to Voting: Recommendations for Addressing Barriers to Private and Independent Voting for People with Disabilities.” This report also found that “there remain significant security, privacy, and ballot secrecy challenges” to returning ballots over the internet.

Bradley Tusk has made millions from his successful political strategy and communications work with other mobile based companies to advocate for the relaxing of laws so that the products could enter the marketplace. As with his previous apps, Tusk and his firm have been pushing for the relaxation of laws which prevent internet voting  in a number of states. According to an investigative report in the Intercept, Tusk has hired experienced and connected lobbyists and organizers to push state legislation which would expand the use of internet voting – a practice  deemed inadvisable by the study Tusk himself funded.

He has done this work in a number of states including Washington, DC and Oregon. Members of his Mobile Voting Project “Circle of Advisors” run organizations that are also pushing the expansion of internet voting. For example, Mobile Voting Project advisor Sarah Streyder, from the Secure Families Initiative, has advocated for internet voting in Wisconsin and successfully pushed for it in Michigan.