Colorado is poised to reject the best advice of the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Vote Foundation and almost every nationally known expert as the state expands Internet voting. Although voters read daily headlines of breaches of government and commercial computer systems and emails, Colorado’s email balloting expansion ignores the experts and defies common sense and lawmakers’ directives. Yet Secretary of State Wayne Williams seems determined to use Colorado voters as guinea pigs who will learn what the experts already know — Internet voting is a needless threat to voter privacy and election security. Williams received input from legislators, experts, political parties, non-profit organizations and many individual voters. Feedback has been almost universally negative, except for the Colorado Democratic Party and the Colorado Clerks Association. Scores of voters and organizations, including the Colorado Republican Party, Common Cause, Verified Voting, and the Colorado Voter Group oppose the expansion. Yet proposed Colorado rules will likely permit the expansion of Internet voting for military voters, overseas civilians and military families, regardless of their location or access to mail ballots or polling places. Skiers at Whistler, Air Force Academy professors’ kids at a coffee shop, and officers at the Pentagon could vote over the Internet if they conclude postal mail ballot delivery “is not certain.”
Heritage Foundation expert Hans von Spakovsky on July 14 released “The Dangers of Internet Voting,” a report warning, “Yet election officials like Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who claimed that any concern that these voting systems are hackable is a ‘nonstarter,’ continue to demonstrate a dangerous lack of knowledge regarding these critical security issues.” John Fund, von Sakovsky’s co-author of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, warned a shocked audience at the recent Western Conservative Summit about Colorado’s wrong-headed direction.
Hackable email voting is a reckless solution in search of a problem. Military voting complaints are few, emailed blank ballots are available to military voters 53 days in advance, and write-in absentee ballots are always available, facilitating postal mail from almost anywhere. For hardship cases where reasonable postal mail is truly unavailable, the 2006 and 2011 legislatures authorized the use of email voting, but with clear directive that it should apply only in limited, extenuating circumstances.