A Coursera class on the security of e-voting!
Just in case you're looking for a good opportunity to learn interesting stuff about cutting-edge information security technology, but happen to be in the 99% or so of people who really don't want to slog through the math required by the Coursera class in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation, there's another Coursera class starting soon that you might be interested in. This class is Security Digital Democracy. It's essentially about exactly how secure (or non-secure) our current e-voting technology is.
Here's the summary of the class from it's web page:
Computer technology has transformed how we participate in democracy. The way we cast our votes, the way our votes are counted, and the way we choose who will lead are increasingly controlled by invisible computer software. Most U.S. states have adopted electronic voting, and countries around the world are starting to collect votes over the Internet. However, computerized voting raises startling security risks that are only beginning to be understood outside the research lab, from voting machine viruses that can silently change votes to the possibility that hackers in foreign countries could steal an election. This course will provide the technical background and public policy foundation that 21st century citizens need to understand the electronic voting debate. You'll learn how electronic voting and Internet voting technologies work, why they're being introduced, and what problems they aim to solve. You'll also learn about the computer- and Internet-security risks these systems face and the serious vulnerabilities that recent research has demonstrated. We'll cover widely used safeguards, checks, and balances — and why they are often inadequate. Finally, we'll see how computer technology has the potential to improve election security, if it's applied intelligently. Along the way, you'll hear stories from the lab and from the trenches on a journey that leads from Mumbai jail cells to the halls of Washington, D.C. You'll come away from this course understanding why you can be confident your own vote will count — or why you should reasonably be skeptical.
If that sounds interesting (and how could it not?), there's still time to sign up for this FREE class before it starts on September 3.
(The best part of this class might actually be that I probably won't feel the need to post obscure e-voting jokes here while I'm taking it. That alone might be enough to justify the time and effort that went into creating the class.)