Secretaries of State on MOVE Act and Online Voting

Mark Ritchie is Minnesota Secretary of the State and also the most recent past President of the National Association of Secretaries of State. He spoke at the Overseas Vote Foundation conference earlier this year: <video>

Mark Ritchie covers:

  • The success of implementing MOVE in Minnesota without Internet voting
  • The risk of Internet voting – Minnesota has been hacked
  • Understanding the difference between using electronics to send ballots vs. receiving them via the Internet
  • Why just supporting Military Voters is insufficient – there are many other overseas voters
  • The importance of the move of primaries from September to August

Secretary Ritchie’s talk is followed on YouTube (on the right) by talks by others on the panel and a Q&A. These are all very interesting and contribute to understanding the challenges faced by military and overseas voters.

  • Ultimately a low percentage of military voters apply for absentee ballots and a disappointing percentage of those are actually returned. We should not expect a military voting rate equal to the general public, but most of those motivated to request ballots should find it convenient enough to vote.
  • New York and Washington make a good case for why overseas voters should be served as well as military voters
  • New York was also quite successful with voters choosing to obtain materials from the web, working in conjunction with a vendor, Scytl and the Overseas Vote Foundation. In 2010 the process was labor intensive for local officials in 2010, yet they are working to improve that in 2011. <video>
  • Many of the existing systems non-online voting systems are actually very similar to the process of the West Virginia online voting pilot and do on result in significant numbers actually voting
  • In Maryland they found that overseas voters made use of electronic ballot delivery of materials at twice the rate of military voters
  • In the Q&A Mark Ritchie discusses the problems that spam filters cause with the actual receipt of emails by voters
  • Many states like the West Virgina  pilot require an absentee application, followed by an ID and Password to be sent to voters for them to retrieve materials or to vote.
    (It seems obvious to us: This can result in problems with mailed information getting to military voters with frequent changes in addresses. If sent via email then there would be security issues and many might well be lost in transmission to the voter)


Earlier this year we pointed to and covered a technologists panel on Internet voting at the same conference.

We believe Connecticut can do better at supporting Military and Overseas Voting. We should be following and improving on the success of states like Minnesota and New York. We should avoid risky, expensive, insufficient solutions like the West Virgina prototype.


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