Trachtenberg on Kelleher on Jefferson

Mitch Trachtenberg sends along the following comments on William Kelleher’s rebuttal to David Jefferson’s recent paper on security issues with Internet voting:

I’m somewhat bewildered by this “rebuttal,” as it does not appear to address the important points David Jefferson makes in his argument.
Yes, the internet is widely used for many transactions.  Jefferson’s well-argued point is that voting has different and more stringent requirements than other transactions, and you do not address this at all.
Jefferson also points out that there is a routine acceptance of a small level of fraud in ecommerce, as a cost of business.  Yet you didn’t reply to that either.
Instead, you appear to have offered non sequiturs, such as the use of digital signatures in e-commerce.
Jefferson was not arguing against digital signatures.  The fact that digital signatures work indicates nothing about whether internet voting can work.
Your most inexcusable argument, in my opinion, is that there has been no proof of fraud in internet voting trials.  Surely you understand that, precisely because of the anonymity and other requirements involved in voting, fraud can be difficult to prove, perhaps impossible.  This is one excellent reason that internet voting cannot be considered trustworthy, not a reason to consider it trustworthy.
If you are concerned that paper-based processes are subject to fraud themselves, please work to improve them, not to subject us all to approaches that may well be convenient and “modern” but that are, for the reasons Dr. Jefferson clearly explains, simply not worthy of trust.
If there are further rebuttals or commentaries, I expect those to appear on the authors’ own websites, and I don’t intend to publish more on this site.  Readers should look there for more information.  UPDATE: Doug Chapin suggests continuing this discussion over on his blog.

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