It is Internet Voting Whackamole Time – this time in North Carolina. The Greensboro News and Record is running an OpEd that endorses having overseas military cast their ballots by email, over the internet.
Does anyone believe that if email/internet voting were allowed for overseas that it would not spread to the rest of our elections? Making military votes go over e-mail is unsafe in the first place. It makes them subject to attack and makes the military voters second class citizens. Additionally they lose their privacy and the secrecy of the ballot. Insecure voting does not honor our troops one little bit.
The Editorial Dept of Greensboro News and Record and popular progressive North Carolina State Rep Grier Martin are endorsing email balloting for our overseas military.
Please email Rep Grier Martin firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him that email/internet voting is not a solution but a problem and we should work with computer scientists and the Overseas Vote Foundation to find the right solution. (his phone 919-733-5758)
Send a letter to the editor of the N-R too: email@example.com
Also, you can visit the article online and post a comment. (reports on internet voting at bottom of this email)
Editorial: Defending democracy
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Every American’s right to vote must be protected. And there’s a special obligation to guarantee ballot access for Americans serving their country overseas.
“If we do not make it possible for the folks defending our democracy to participate in our democracy, what does that say? If you’re risking your life to defend our democracy, we should bend over backward and spare no expense to make it possible to vote,” state Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said Tuesday.
Martin served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2002-2003. As a legislator, he’s pushed for easier absentee ballot access for servicemen.
A bill approved this year directs election boards to send absentee ballots earlier and allows for their return up to three days after a primary or general election. It also asks the absentee voter to include the signature of only one witness instead of two, which was previously required.
The new law adds an emergency provision that authorizes the State Board of Elections to take exceptional action to allow voting if normal procedures aren’t possible. This would cover a last-minute deployment just before an election, Martin said.
These are relatively small changes that can make the difference for some military personnel and other Americans abroad. More sweeping improvements are needed, too.
Guilford County Supervisor of Elections George Gilbert last week noted the cost of mailing absentee ballots overseas and the relatively low rate of return, especially for off-year municipal elections.
The expense can be justified, but using the mail to carry ballots across oceans is outdated. In fact, North Carolina law allows electronic transmission of ballots, and voting by e-mail should be put into regular practice as soon as possible.
“It amazed me when I was in Afghanistan how connected we are,” Martin said. “The technology is there.”
Gilbert anticipates greater use of e-mail and the Internet in the near future. “We’re told by the Department of Defense that all military personnel have e-mail addresses,” he said.
The State Board of Elections is getting closer to offering full electronic transmission of absentee ballots to overseas voters, Executive Director Gary Bartlett said Tuesday. Currently, ballots can be sent by e-mail, printed by the voter, filled out and returned by fax to the state board, which then distributes them to county boards.
There are still ballot security issues to work out, but Bartlett believes North Carolina can become a leader in election technology. Besides helping voters overseas, the same technology can improve ballot access for voters with disabilities, he said.
All Americans should be guaranteed reasonable access to polling places. New technologies should make that easier, wherever they are.
Americans serving overseas deserve every opportunity to vote. If not for the defenders of democracy, no one’s rights would be secure for long.
Key phrase here: “There are still ballot security issues to work out, but Bartlett believes North Carolina can become a leader in election technology. “ But instead North Carolina would be a leader in jumping off of a cliff. North Carolina has already been a “leader” in things like paperless voting, and that bombed.
The Pew report points out that North Carolina is the ONLY state in the country that requires overseas ballots to be returned by the day BEFORE election day. They could add one more day to the time frame and give themselves further cushion by allowing ballots to be returned ON election day like other states, before resorting to methods which raise more ballot security issues.
North Carolina is NOT listed as one of the states which needs changes made to their existing situation in order for military voters overseas to be able to get voted ballots back.
A solution recommended by the Overseas Voter Foundation:
“require that all UOCAVA (The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee) voters file an FPCA (Federal Post Card Application) for each election year in which they intend to vote. It should be possible to indicate which election year the ballot request form is filed for on the form itself (it is not at present possible to indicate this).
Maintain the law but add a minor provision which allows election officials to discontinue sending ballots to addresses from which the ballots are returned undeliverable, or not at all. “
Is Internet Voting Safe? Vote Here
Threat Level Privacy, Crime and Security Online.
By Kevin Poulsen Email Author; June 4, 2009
Computer Technologists’ statement on internet voting September 11th, 2008 Because of the increasing frequency of proposals to allow remote voting over the internet, we believe it is necessary to warn policymakers and the public that secure internet voting is a very hard technical problem, and that we should proceed with internet voting schemes only after thorough consideration of the technical and non-technical issues in doing so. Please read our statement, and, if you are a “computer expert”, consider endorsing it
See “Computer criminals”