Saturday, May 8, 2010

Modernizing Overseas Absentee Voting

I saw some excellent news tonight in the New York Times, States Move to Allow Overseas and Military Voters to Cast Ballots by Internet:

Nearly three million overseas and military voters from at least 33 states will be permitted to cast ballots over the Internet in November using e-mail or fax, in part because of new regulations proposed last month by the federal agency that oversees voting.

The move comes as state and federal election officials are trying to find faster ways to handle the ballots of these voters, which often go uncounted in elections because of distance and unreliable mail service.

About 22 percent of military and overseas voters surveyed were unable to return their ballots in the 2008 election because of such problems, according to the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

Cybersecurity experts, election officials and voting-integrity advocates, however, have raised concerns about the plan. They point out that e-mail messages can be intercepted, that voting Web sites can be hacked or taken down by malicious attacks, and that the secrecy of ballots is hard to ensure once they are sent over the Web.

I'm sure our overseas citizens appreciate the efforts of those cybersecurity geeks and voter-integrity advocates. But, really, how could internet voting be any worse than what we have now, when our present system disenfranchises a whopping 22 percent of overseas voters?

Here's the bottom line:

Johnnie McLean, the deputy director for administration at the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which has offered overseas and military voters the option to use e-mail or fax for their ballots since 2006, said that when she gets a call from a soldier overseas who has missed deadlines but wants to vote, she is glad she has the e-mail option.

“Even though there are security issues,” Ms. McLean said, “those soldiers are real happy, too, that they don’t have to lose their right to vote.

It's about time the present absentee voting system got fixed. No one serving his nation overseas should have to wonder whether or not he will be able to cast his vote.

No comments: