The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: online voting

Electronic Everything, Except…

It’s almost comical to read Singh’s prediction, considering the digital world we live in today. He predicts that “electronic mail will soon become more popular than conventional mail,” and that governments will use the internet to help run their countries. These statements have long been true. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I sent someone a letter that wasn’t my mom forcing me to send thank-you cards after my 13th birthday party.

Almost every action we perform using the internet nowadays uses a code. Every time we log-in to a site, our credentials are protected through encryption. In many cases, this is lower-stakes, like on social media platforms, gaming websites, etc. However, this encryption can also be extremely crucial: private email, online banking, and health records are all contained online. For actions such as these, it is imperative that our information is well protected. Someone who had access to all the information we store on the internet could easily ruin our lives.

One of Singh’s predictions, however, has not yet come true. In the US, at least, online voting has not become a reality. Some states do allow some sorts of online voting, whether it’s, or electronic fax or portal, but the majority of voting is done in person at a booth or through absentee ballots. The overarching reason for this is the government’s distrust in their own ability to maintain an uninterrupted and honest election. While smaller countries may find it easier to implement electronic voting, the U.S. faces several problems. First, many citizens in the United States are extremely well educated and well versed in computer encryption systems and hacking. The odds of all the top hackers working for the US government is extremely low. Secondly, there is always international interest in our domestic elections. There have been countless stories in the news (Russia, Ukraine) about other countries trying to interfere with our elections. Online voting would make this much easier, as the internet is very much a worldwide network. Containing voting to an old-school system limits the amount of electronic interference that another citizen or country could have.

Reading the news, shopping, sending messages, and so many more simple tasks have been taken over by the internet – it’ll be interesting to see if the internet continues to develop and eventually takes over voting as well.

Pretty Good Predictions

Before even seeing this question, I already had something to say about the predictions that Singh made in this paragraph. The one that stood out to me was that democracies will be using online voting. I found this funny because 20 years from the writing of this book, online voting still doesn’t exist, and the idea appears to still be the cause of a lot of problems. Online voting is something that would most definitely be more convenient for many people. For me, the whole voting process took so much longer than I feel it needed to. First, I had to register to vote, by printing a form and filling it out. I had to send the form to my county’s voting office, then they had to send me back a letter that said I was registered. Then, since I’m from Ohio, I had to request an absentee ballot. I had to first request a request for the ballot. They sent me a form that I had to fill out, then send back to my voting office again. Then, they sent me the absentee ballot, which I filled out, then sent back again. Overall, this process took a very long time, and online voting would have shortened this to minutes. I’m pretty sure it’s a concept that wouldn’t be very hard to implement, but there would most likely still be problems. Considering that in the 2016 election there were allegations of tampered ballots and they were done in person, I wouldn’t be surprised if the problem was even worse if done online. This is where good encryption comes in. If there was extremely secure encryption during online elections, then hypothetically, there shouldn’t be a problem with possible tampering. Considering that we can trust encryption enough to type in our social security numbers and credit card numbers and all our private information, I think it’s reasonable to trust online voting.




The Path to Online Voting

I’ve only recently begun working on my paper, but it has proved to be much more interesting than I originally anticipated. Online voting is such a relevant and current issue, as it very well could be widely instituted in the near future, and it has such large implications. It is basically a distillation of the security vs. privacy debate, throwing in the issue of trust in government. My research has mostly consisted of Google Scholar and the Vanderbilt databases, which are far more helpful than any resources I used in high school. I was surprised that when I search a topic in google scholar, if Vanderbilt has access to it, a link appears on the side of the search results page, which has really streamlined the research process.

The most challenging part of the process thus far has been sifting through all of the information, as there is much more of it than I expected. I’m trying to read sources on all sides of the issue – both pro-online-voting and anti-online-voting – and it’s just a lot to take in. Also, a lot of the studies and information I’m finding is from the 2004 to 2008 period, which, while not completely outdated, also aren’t completely current in the world of technology. Since online voting still hasn’t become a widespread American practice, however, the research and arguments still seem to apply well to the current situation.

I’m currently in the drafting stage, pulling all of the information together. It’s a bit difficult to synthesize all the material, but the actual writing is always my favorite part of the process – figuring out which arrangements work, and what words feel right. My topic has definitely pulled me in, and I’m excited to continue exploring the nuances of the issue.

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