Appendix A

California Internet Voting Task Force

Technical Committee Recommendations

 

Table of Contents

7  Internet voter education and support

No i-voting system should be fielded without a comprehensive voter education program in place to explain it to voters. At county-controlled i-voting sites there should always be someone on hand to explain to voters how they should authenticate themselves, and to offer assistance in case of any technical problems encountered during voting. It is essential that voters not be intimidated by the mechanics of i-voting, and that they have a clear mental model to use as a guide.

For home or workplace-oriented systems, there should be comprehensive documentation online, and also a "practice" site, where voters can go through the motions of i-voting, with the understanding that practice votes do not count and that they are free to experiment. Voters should be encouraged to experiment with the i-voting system, and practice the whole procedure using an alternate site before connecting to the real vote servers and casting real ballots.

Many technical problems will surely be encountered when home or workplace i-voting is first tried, and it is essential to have help resources available to guide voters through them. For example, the client software will have to work on a very wide variety of voter-owned configurations, and inevitably there will be configurations or ISPs not supported. Such situations must be handled as gracefully as possible.

The procedures for Internet voting will be unfamiliar to voters in the first few elections, and the rationale for any extra steps necessitated by security concerns will not be widely apparent, and may, in fact, be resented. Vendors of i-voting systems should also be prepared to conduct a comprehensive voter education media campaign to explain how i-voting works, and why, and that they always have the alternative of going to the polls if they encounter problems. There are many features of such a system whose purpose and functioning will not be obvious; voters will quite reasonably wonder if the system is secure. The online documentation should include answers to such potential voter questions as:

Finally, vendors should be prepared with abundant technical support for voters who are having trouble during i-voting. Both telephone support and live online support are desirable, with quick enough response that voters do not abandon i-voting out of frustration.