Military Voters

Jul 15, 2013

A special cybersecurity panel of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science has voted to move forward with crafting state legislation to enable many deployed military voters to cast their absentee ballots on-line. 

The panel decided that the pilot program should focus on active-duty military personnel based outside of the continental U.S.--instead of also including spouses and other employees. 

As proposed, the bill would require signing and scanning of each ballot, a witness, and use of a military smart-ID card that’s encrypted. Local officials would compare the ballots received with matching absentee voting applications and investigate any irregularities.

But SRI International’s Jeremy Epstein warned of potential problems, including viruses.
“And then when the local board of elections opens that—what they think is an e-mail attachment that is a ballot—in fact, they’re opening a virus and they’re getting their system infected.”

Supporters countered that military systems are much more secure than personal PCs… and said postal mail is insecure and disenfranchised many military voters last year. Over the phone, Naval Reserve Officer Bob Cary said 25 percent of personnel never even received their ballots, and the ballots of many who did arrived too late to count.

“The fact of the matter is that the current system has extensive risks.  In fact, 170,000 military voters are unable to vote in the current system!”

The League of Women Voters of Virginia urged caution until security concerns can be cleared up.