Virginia Considers On-Line Voting for Military

Nov 27, 2013

Voting among the armed forces continues to be a logistical challenge—especially for those who are deployed. 

Now a state commission that advises the General Assembly on technology issues has recommended enabling military personnel who are stationed overseas to cast their votes on-line if needed. 

Last year, about 1700 of Virginia’s more than 126,000 military members and spouses requested absentee ballots by August—or roughly in time to receive and return the ballots from overseas.  The Joint Commission on Technology and Science bill would allow overseas military personnel to send their votes by secure e-mail or fax—when using encrypted, Department of Defense smart ID cards.  

Computer scientist Alex Blakemore warned that the bill’s safeguards are not clearly defined.
“Pretty much every major DOD, government, and private industry computer system has been hacked—quite often by foreign governments.”

But Delegate Joe May said military ‘Common Access Cards’ and protocols are effective.
“This is restricted to uniformed service members overseas only.  I’ve never been around a service facility that did not have super-secure communications.”

Under the bill, the State Board of Elections would work with the Defense Department and develop security measures. Some panel members added that doing so could be expensive.