A federal judge in Baltimore ordered Maryland election officials to adopt an online absentee voting tool in time for this year’s general election, a move designed to make it easier for disabled voters to cast ballots. Opponents of the system — including computer security experts — have warned it could lead to voter fraud or privacy breaches. The tool, developed in house by the State Board of Elections, allows disabled people to receive their ballot over the internet and fill it out on a computer. The completed ballot must be printed and mailed to an elections board. Attorney Jessica Weber, who represents a group of voters as well as the National Federation of the Blind, said during the trial that her clients are currently “being denied meaningful access to voting.” In a 33-page ruling issued Thursday, Judge Richard D. Bennett agreed and ordered the state to adopt the system. “This Court finds that Plaintiffs have been denied meaningful access to the State’s absentee ballot voting program as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act,” he wrote. The ruling applies only to this year’s election.
… David J. McManus Jr., a Republican member of the board who voted against the tool, testified at the trial that he was unimpressed with security tests.
The Maryland Attorney General’s office argued in court that the judge did not have the power to impose the voting tool after it had been rejected by the elections board. The office could not immediately be reached for comment on the ruling.
Much of the debate in the case focused on how secure the tool will be. The board staff hired a computer security consultant who analyzed the system and concluded that it was secure. But another expert associated with a group that advocates for greater security around electronic voting systems tested the Maryland tool and argued that it was vulnerable to hacking.