The OSDV Foundation and TrustTheVote Project are pleased to have an opportunity to provide comment on an increasingly vital aspect of broadband in the United States: its use in civic participation and the processes of democracy. We encourage the Commission to develop a comprehensive national broadband plan that particularly includes a plan for the use of broadband infrastructure and services to advance civic participation. To the extent this Plan includes consideration of broadband infrastructure for election processes and services, we advise careful consideration of what the architecture for a broadband‐based voting system should look like and call upon experts and stakeholders to facilitate that understanding.
Clearly the digital age and increasingly mobile society can benefit from digital means for such civic participation services. However, the extent to which the challenges discussed herein can be adequately addressed remains unclear. However, any such Plan should consider the possibility that broadband infrastructure may be called upon in the future to support and sustain elections services in some capacity, whether strictly for back‐office functions or all the way out to ballot casting and counting services. We do not recommend reliance on home or personal broadband connected digital devices for citizen‐facing voting services for the foreseeable future or until such time as the challenges discussed herein are resolved to the satisfaction of the public.
That advised, we do encourage the Commission to take a citizen‐centric approach to fashioning its broadband policy with regard to civic participation in terms of voting and elections services. By “citizen‐centric” we are referring to an approach that considers the wants and needs of an increasingly mobile society in a digital age. As one simple example, consider the typical citizen voting situation wherein the voter is employed sufficiently far away from their home precinct such that it is logistically impossible for them to reach their polling place in time before or after their work day to cast their ballot, while fulfilling their responsibilities to their employer. If there are any best practices we can identify at this juncture with regard to broadband deployment of election services, two are particularly clear:
1) personal or home connected devices should not be permitted to be utilized for ballot casting; and
2) broadband connected ballot marking devices should be restricted to government authorized polling places.
Finally, the overseas and UOCAVA voting challenges combined with the MOVE Act signed into law offer an opportunity to incrementally approach the reliance and leveraging of broadband infrastructure to improve participation of overseas citizens, military, and diplomatic personnel in U.S. elections. This should begin with the delivery of blank ballots.
Full Article: OSDV Responds to FCC Inquiry about Internet Voting