The debate over whether Americans should be permitted to vote via the Internet has long pitted voting system manufacturers, who frame it to election officials as inevitable and modern, against top cybersecurity experts who insist it cannot be done without inviting wide-scale fraud. In recent months, however, a powerful new force has joined the fight: people with disabilities, insisting that using electronic ballots from their homes ought to be seen as a right guaranteed by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Most notably, a federal judge in Maryland is scheduled next month to hear arguments as to whether the state board of elections must certify a system that involves the Internet-based delivery and marking of absentee ballots for people with disabilities. The lawsuit’s main plaintiff is the National Federation for the Blind (NFB), joined by a man with cerebral palsy and a woman who is deaf and blind. Separately, the Utah legislature in March passed the Internet Voting Pilot Project Act to permit county election officials to develop systems for people with disabilities to vote online. No actual system has been proposed or adopted yet. … Those systems are worrisome to opponents, but for the most part they represent a relatively small number of voters scattered across the nation. The focus on Maryland is the result of both limited resources and the fear of a federal precedent, said Susan Greenhalgh of Verified Voting, a watchdog group that raises concerns about vulnerabilities in electronic voting systems of all types. “The concern is that if this lawsuit succeeds, it could persuade others that to be compliant with the ADA you must have an online ballot-marking system,” Greenhalgh said. “That could be very, very damaging to require that all over the country.” Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic co-director Penny Venetis, who works with Verified Voting, went further, warning, “You get one federal court decision that says that, we will have Internet voting.”Full Article: Court case: Voting via the Internet is a civil rights issue for disabled | Al Jazeera America.
Aug 1 2014