New Jersey lawmakers have advanced legislation that could pave the way for soldiers and diplomats serving overseas to vote completely online. New Jerseyans serving in the military or foreign service are permitted to request and return mail-in ballots by fax or email, but the process isn’t completely private and can still be difficult because service members also must complete and mail ballots to their county boards of election. Legislation penned by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-4th of Washington, seeks to move the process exclusively online to a secure and private system. Moriarty’s bill would require the New Jersey secretary of state to pursue such a system and implement it as a pilot program, if it is feasible. “For those who defend our freedoms as well as others who serve overseas, we should make it easier for them to exercise their own freedoms and have their votes counted,” he said Thursday during a hearing on the measure before the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “The technology is there, and it’s being used around the world. I think the time is right for a pilot program.”
More than a dozen counties permit Internet voting in some form, according to Jonathan Brill, director of legislative operations for Florida company SOE Software, which designs encrypted online-voting systems. Several states use online systems to deliver absentee ballots, and many are discussing online-voting systems, he said.
“This is a step forward but not a leap forward,” Brill told the committee. “There are other states in the same place you are today. Some have focused on military voters or disabled voters, and others have opened it up to (considering) larger populations. You’re not the only ones.”
Brill said the key to any system would be making sure it’s private and secure. He could not provide a cost, but he estimated that it would be less than the existing primarily paper system. “I don’t think you can put a price on democracy and a person’s individual vote,” he said.