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Why voting by phone, computer won’t be coming anytime soon

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WASHINGTON — Voting from a phone, tablet or desktop computer is probably still years away, according to a report on online voting released Friday.

While some voting technology is already in use — such as electronic voting machines, apps to register to vote and online information to find polling places — voting itself requires developing a system that can’t be hacked.

“Every day, we are dealing with thousands of security breaches in this country,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and chief executive of the U.S. Vote Foundation, which compiled the report. “To think that voting could be better or more secure is a little bit pie in the sky.”

Dzieduszycka-Suinat has reason for concern, especially after the federal government announced that hackers accessed the personal information of more than 21 million people from the Office of Personnel Management computer systems. Companies such as Target, Sony and JPMorgan have suffered massive data breaches.

In addition to the threat of hacking, there is also currently no way to verify that a ballot has actually been cast by a voter or to maintain the privacy of individual voters, according to the study.

One of the key recommendations in the report, which was developed after two years of study by academics, technology experts and state election officials, includes implementing a system called “end-to-end verifiability” that would check that the votes were, in fact, recorded and entered into the final tally of votes.

That technology would require investment from a variety of sources, including foundations and venture capitalists. State election officials would have to approve the system before it is implemented, which would mean voters could be waiting at least a few election cycles before being able to cast votes via the Internet.

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