New Study Analyzes, Creates Roadmap for Online and E-Voting

McAfee teams with the Atlantic Council to deliver comprehensive report on the state of affairs in digital democracy

SANTA CLARA, California. and Washington, DC.October 8, 2014 — Online voting and e-voting could become a larger part of the political process around the world but only if the right technologies and processes are implemented to ensure its security, according to a new Atlantic Council study sponsored by McAfee now part of Intel Secutity. The study, which was relased at an event at the Atlantic Council today, found that many of the technologies that handle online financial transactions could be applied to make e-voting and online voting a reality in the future.

In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to hold nationwide elections through an e-voting system, with voters logging in through a personal computer and voting with an application that required the voter’s ID smartcard and a unique pin number. The system has worked well, with more than a quarter of the Estonian population voting online. E-voting has taken place successfully in other countries as well, including Australia, Brazil and France. India has installed more than 900,000 electronic voting machines that have saved money and helped their illiterate citizens vote.

"Online and e-voting are examples of how a greater empasis on security could empower a new era in digital democracy," said Michael DeCesare, president of McAfee. "Yet it will take more than technology to foster acceptance of online and e-voting; people need to have trust and confidence in the process. Pilot programs for local elections could be the route to earning public trust on a small scale. Once that trust begins to expand, we could start seeing online and e-voting’s benefits – from increased voter turnout to more efficient elections."

Online and e-voting are not currently widely implemeted because of technical barriers that have been hard to overcome, and it still has relatively low public acceptance. Unlike financial hacks, lost votes cannot be regained, and electronic intrusions could alter previously cast votes to change the results of an election. But with the right, carefully chosen security considerations, online and e-voting could become more widespread.

The Atlantic Council researchers noted that cryptography, strong access control enabled by biometrics and securely written software could ensure the safety of votes cast online and the integrity of the system. Along with these security considerations, online and e-voting could become more popular as young people who have grown up with the internet become older.

"It's been fascinating to dive into case studies, like Estonia, and the theoretical research around this subject," said Jason Healey, director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. "Online and e-voting’s potential in terms of reach, access and participation has the chance to revolutionize the democractic process, but there are a series of serious risks that will have to be mitigated. But Estonia has shown that it is possible, and we hope that our recommendations for a path forward will generate more discussions and trials."

About McAfee
McAfee is now part of Intel Security (NASDAQ INTC). With its Security Connected strategy, innovative approach to hardware-enhanced security, and unique Global Threat Intelligence, Intel Security is intensely focused on developing proactive, proven security solutions and services that protect systems, networks, and mobile devices for business and personal use around the world. Intel Security combines the experience and expertise of McAfee with the innovation and proven performance of Intel to make security an essential ingredient in every architecture and on every computing platform. Intel Security’s mission is to give everyone the confidence to live and work safely and securely in the digital world.

About Atlantic Council
The Atlantic Council promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the Atlantic Community's central role in meeting global challenges. The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders.


Note: McAfee is a registered trademark of McAfee, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Intel is a trademark of Intel Corporation in the US and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Sal Viveros
McAfee, part of Intel Security

Trish Rimo
RH Strategic

Madeleine Levev Lambert
Atlantic Council