Incoming D.C. Council Urged to Keep Elections Secure in Wake of New Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The D.C. Council should not implement District-wide internet voting, as such systems have not been proven secure and could seriously undermine trust in the voting system, more than a dozen groups said in a letter sent today. The letter, organized by Public Citizen and the Center for Democracy & Technology, follows a new report from the University of California, Berkeley laying out the security risks.

In February 2022, eight D.C. Councilmembers introduced a bill that would have required the District of Columbia to implement a system enabling all D.C. voters to vote online by 2024. Councilmembers are scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 2, 2023; in today’s letter, the groups urged the new Council not to reintroduce this bill.

In 2021, a group of election experts was convened at U.C. Berkeley to research and propose standards for safe and secure internet voting. The group’s effort was part of a project underwritten with support from New York-based venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, who has been a prominent supporter of internet voting in D.C. Last week, the group instead announced that the “technology is still too limited, and the security risks too great to establish responsible standards for voting via the internet at this time.” Their conclusion adds to the evidence that internet voting cannot be safely deployed in the District.

“There is a reason that universal internet voting has not been implemented in any U.S. state: The election security community is in agreement that internet voting is woefully insecure,” the letter reads. The groups warned that, “if an online voting system were to be implemented and hacked, we fear that it would undermine perceptions of D.C.’s ability to self-govern.”

The letter also notes that there are more secure ways for D.C. to improve voting access, including the Council’s recent passage of the Elections Modernization Amendment Act and the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act. The groups also suggest that D.C. could consider bringing ballot marking devices to voters who are unable to handle paper during the early voting period.