NY Times: States put Military votes at risk

New York Times Editorial: Internet Voting, Still in Beta <read>

Internet voting is in its infancy, and still far too unreliable, but states are starting to allow it and the trend is accelerating because of a new federal law that requires greater efforts to help military and other overseas voters cast ballots. Men and women in uniform must have a fair opportunity to vote, but allowing online voting in its current state could open elections up to vote theft and other mischief…

But the value of removing roadblocks is undermined when votes are put at risk, which can happen when ballots are returned by e-mail or are actually cast on a Web site. Massachusetts recently enacted a law allowing service members to vote by e-mail overseas. According to Verified Voting, a group that works to ensure reliable elections, 16 states allow some form of Internet voting, and more than a dozen — including Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois and Washington — are considering it.

E-mail can be intercepted, and voting Web sites can be hacked or taken down by malicious attacks. There are not even agreed-upon standards for what safety measures are necessary.

In many cases, it is not possible to ensure a secret ballot when votes are cast online or by e-mail. That is a particular concern for military voting, where soldiers could come under pressure from commanding officers about their choice of a candidate.

As is often the case, the Times gets it right when it comes to voting Integrity. We would add that if some votes are at risk, our entire democracy of and by the people is a risk.

Many ask “Why not let the Military and even all citizens vote over the Internet like American Idol?”.  The question is not the problem, but the public and election officials should direct the question to computer scientists and security experts and listen carefully to their answers.

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