Marconi Fellow Ron Rivest Is Worried About Internet Voting

Ron Rivest

MIT Professor Ron Rivest, credited with the development of the encryption that allows secure transactions over the Internet, ought to know a thing or two about security. So when he says he is worried about moving toward Internet voting, people listen. Widely touted as a way to improve both voting accessibility for the masses and the security of that vote, Internet voting is supposedly “the next best thing.” But in a recent documentary, “I voted?”, which aired at the Tribeca Film Festival, Rivest, the 2007 Marconi Fellow, is quoted, “Secure Internet voting is a bit like safe cigarettes.”

Rivest has spent the last several years working to raise awareness about the lack of security in both Internet voting and the new digital voting machines. In the film, even Dan Rather wonders why recent voting problems—which look a lot like potential fraud—aren’t a bigger story.

“I Voted?” raises plenty of questions about the voting machines currently being used throughout the country. At a recent security conference in San Francisco, a number of scientists expressed concern, suggesting that not only are the machines not secure, but the people operating them don’t even understand how they work. One scientist said that in just 30 seconds, he could install a virus on a single machine that would spread to every other machine in a county.

“Voting is really challenging,” says Rivest. “It really has a set of almost unmeetable requirements.” Which is why, in the digital era, some experts suggest the best solution might be the least technological; returning to the paper ballot.

To see more about the documentary, you can visit