A program allowing soldiers in hostile fire zones to vote via email soon may come to Bell County, if a bill can make its way through the Texas Legislature. A pilot version of the program was held last year in Bexar County, which includes Fort Sam Houston and other military bases. The secretary of state reported 365 ballots were sent to soldiers overseas for the November election. Of those ballots, eight soldiers from Bexar County cast ballots in Texas’ general election in 2014. Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen said the eight emailed back represent “a huge success.” Now, a bill that expands the program is winding its way through the Texas Senate. The bill would allow the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, to extend the program to other counties, including Bell County for Fort Hood and El Paso County, home to Fort Bliss. … But voting via email and through the Internet can be a big red flag for cybersecurity experts.
A 2008 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is under the U.S. Department of Commerce, found significant risks with sending ballots via email.
“Attackers could flood election email servers with large amounts of illegitimate traffic. This could not only prevent voters’ emails from reaching election officials, but could also make it difficult for officials to distinguish between valid and invalid ballots.”
The report outlined similar risks for potential websites that allow voters to log in and fill out a ballot. Attacks “could lead voters to fraudulent websites,” according to the report. “These voters may unknowingly provide their voter credentials to a malicious party, who in turn could impersonate the voter on the legitimate election server.”