Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Andrew Gumbel, author of "Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America," writes that the announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it would be ditching its current all-mail secret ballot system and that its more than 5,000 members would be voting for Oscar winners through their own computers through a system incorporating "multiple layers of security" and "military-grade encryption techniques" is an open invitation for cyber attacks and raises the risk of a fraudulent outcome. "Computer experts on both sides of the Atlantic are unequivocal," writes Gumbel. "There is no known way to have a secret ballot, keeping the voter entirely separate from his or her vote, and also to conduct a meaningful audit ensuring that nothing went awry." The danger is especially acute when voters use their own computers, which tend to be riddled with malicious software that enables hackers half a world away to manipulate them at will says David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University. The academy has always bent over backward to keep Oscars voting beyond suspicion but the academy's chief operating officer, Ric Robertson, appears to be unaware of the problems inherent in Internet voting. "An endorsement of Internet voting by Hollywood's ruling body will inevitably be taken as an opportunity to push the technology more aggressively in the political arena. As long as there are questions about the safety of the technology, that expansion poses an ever-greater threat to our democratic integrity.""