Science and Technology News

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Web Site Helps Troops Vote

There’s a website out there that helps troops and their family members exercise their right to vote.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website provides online wizards for the federal postcard application and the federal write-in absentee ballots, and provides voters direct access to their states’ voting systems, said Mr. Bob Carey, FVAP director, during a recent DODLive Bloggers’ Roundtable interview. The site also includes links relevant to the user’s local elections.

“So if the state has an online voter registration system for military and overseas voters, [voters] can go [to the site] thru FVAP,” he said. “They don’t even have to use our form. If the state has an online ballot delivery system, [the site] will send them directly there. And hopefully it will be seamless, intuitive, quick.”

This website is especially important, since the FVAP 2010 post-election report showed that  29% of the military never received their ballots, and 44% of local election officials sent out ballots after the 45-day deadline.  On the plus side, there was a 21% increase in military voting, a 27% increase in military voters receiving ballots, and a 24% increase in military voters casting ballots.  It also showed broad increases in voter awareness of available voting assistance resources. This is good news, especially considering that the program hopes to roll out some type of eVoting site in the future.

“The Department of Defense has a mandate to do an Internet voting demonstration project for military voting — for military voters. And we are working towards figuring out how to be able to do that,” said Mr. Carey. He said the program must consider a few issues, though, while developing such a site.

“There are inherent security risks with that,” he said. “But there are also inherent security risks with the current system, such as 112,000 people who think they’re going to get a ballot, don’t get it. That’s a risk. There’s not going to be any electronic voting system that’s ever going to be 100 percent secure, but also the current paper-based system is not 100 percent reliable, either. So we’ve got to accept that.”

Some states will very likely run Internet voting systems for military and overseas voters in the 2012 election, he said.  The FVAP site will make sure the voters are aware of them.

He said the ultimate goal is for to be the one-stop shop for military voters.

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