In an age where people can transfer money using their mobile device, it’s not hard to envision a future where citizens wake up on Election Day, pull out their phones and choose the next leader of the Free World on the way to work. Last week, a federal election agency took a small step toward that futuristic vision. … The updated guidelines will allow manufacturers to test machines against modern security and disability standards and get them certified for use by states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. … When it comes to Internet-based voting systems, many experts argue there’s no clear solution to address the issues of security and verifiability. A securely designed online system also needs to be easy to use, and so far that goal has eluded researchers, said Poorvi Vora, an associate professor of computer science at George Washington University who has researched Internet voting systems. Vora is part of a group of academics, computer scientists, election officials and activists working on a project led by the Overseas Vote Foundation, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit, to answer one question: Is it possible to design a system that lets people vote remotely in a secure, accessible, anonymous, convenient and verifiable manner? The answer so far is no, but the group says it is close to a possible solution and will present its design to the election research community and federal agencies this summer. As with health records or financial data, online security remains an obstacle.
Internet voting, a technology often cited as a solution to the United States’ problematic voting machines, received failing security and accessibility grades in the latest in-depth audit conducted by the City of Toronto. Two of the three vendors audited by the city currently have contracts with over a dozen U.S. jurisdictions for similar technologies. The accessibility report, prepared by researchers at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, and the security report, prepared by researchers at Concordia and Western universities, were obtained by Al Jazeera America through a Freedom of Information Act request. … The reports highlight the difficulty in creating a voting system that isn’t more susceptible to corruption than existing voting technology and that is easy enough to use for voters with a variety of personal computer setups, including those with disabilities who often use alternatives to traditional mice, keyboards and screens. … “It’s clear from the report for Toronto that the systems being considered don’t meet the minimum accessibility standards required,” said Barbara Simons, a board member of Verified Voting, and co-author of the book “Broken Ballots: Will your Vote Count?” who also obtained the reports through a Freedom of Information request.
Making sure every vote counts and every vote is secure is of the utmost importance to all elections officials. When the voters are members of our military or residents serving and living abroad, the counting of those votes is as important, it’s just a bit more complex. Through the years there have been a variety of legislative measures such as the MOVE Act to make sure that ballots are sent to and accepted from overseas voters in a timely fashion. There have been some attempts — some somewhat successful, some not-so-much — to create secure systems for overseas residents to case their ballots electronically. Now the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) is conducting a new study that will team up scientists and state and local elections officials to look at the feasibility of end-to-end, verifiable, secure Internet voting for military and overseas voters.
Voting Blogs: New Overseas Vote Foundation Project to Examine Remote Online Voting | Election Academy
Last week, the Overseas Vote Foundation announced the launch of a new project aimed at taking a research-based approach to the question of whether or not absentee ballots can be securely cast over the Internet. Thanks to generous funding from the Democracy Fund, the project will be an opportunity to answer key questions about the feasibility of meeting growing calls for remote online voting. OVF’s press release has more details:
The project is called End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study (E2E VIV Project) and will examine a form of remote voting that enables a so-called “end-to-end verifiability” (E2E) property. A unique team of experts in computer science, usability, and auditing together with a selection of local election officials from key counties around the U.S. will assemble for this study.Their efforts aim to produce a system specification and set of testing scenarios, which if they meet the requirements for security, auditability, and usability, will then be placed in the public domain. At the same time, they intend to demonstrate that confidence in a voting system is built on a willingness to verify its security through testing and transparency.
You can do almost anything online; your banking, shop on Amazon, pay your bills. And yet one thing that forever evaded Californians is the opportunity to vote online, due to the myriad of security and privacy issues. But a new project from the Overseas Vote Foundation is putting a team together that could be the catalyst toward bringing democracy to your DSL connection. The project is called End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting: Specification and Feasibility Assessment Study, aka E2E VIV Project. It brings together experts in computer science, usability, and auditing and adds in the expertise of local election officials from counties throughout the U.S. to examine potential solutions to the current roadblocks toward online voting. The main challenge? How to maintain the anonymity of your vote while making sure it’s secure and stays the same from sender to recipient.
Voting Blogs: The Impact of the Electronic Transmission of Blank Ballots in 2012 | Overseas Vote Foundation
Approximately 10 years ago, states began to explore using electronic transmission methods, such as fax and email, to transmit blank ballots to military and overseas voters. At that time, 24 states allowed a blank ballot to be sent to voters via fax only and three states, Florida, Wisconsin, and Virginia, also permitted email transmission in limited cases. Gradually, additional states continued to implement electronic transmission methods in 2006 and in 2008. In 2009, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act formalized the use of electronic technology in the military and overseas voting process by mandating the use of electronic transmission of election materials to UOCAVA voters with options for the electronic delivery of blank ballots. As states became compliant with MOVE, the use of electronic transmission methods for the delivery of blank ballots increased sharply. For example, in 2010, 47 states and the District of Columbia provided for the transmission of a blank ballot via email or Internet download, up from 20 states in 2008. Only two states, Alaska and Rhode Island, offered blank ballots via fax as their method of electronic delivery in 2010. Several states, however, placed restrictions on the use of email for delivery of blank ballots. For example, Colorado only allowed military voters to receive ballots via email and not overseas civilians.
Whether Kentuckians deployed or living overseas should have the option to cast ballots using the Internet has been among the more heavily debated topics of this year’s legislative session. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has led the charge to make an electronic transmission system available for military and overseas voters from Kentucky, a main provision in Senate Bill 1 that was later removed. Some, such as Senate President Robert Stivers and Common Cause of Kentucky, a government watchdog group, have raised concerns with cyber security and election integrity. Supporters say secure systems have been implemented by other states without issue. The bill, sponsored by Stivers, R-Manchester, is set for a conference committee. Two key parts of the legislation – electronic submission of absentee ballots and allowing a two-day extension to receive them – were removed by the Senate and later reinserted by the House, prompting debate in both chambers as votes were cast.
National: Program exceeds expectations in reaching overseas and military absentee voters | Fort Hood Sentinel
The Federal Voting Assistance Program exceeded congressional expectations in the 2012 election cycle by getting guidance to service members so they could vote by absentee ballot, a senior FVAP official said here, Jan. 24. David Beirne, acting deputy director of technology programs for FVAP, participated in a “MOVE and the Military” panel discussion at George Washington University during the seventh annual summit of the Overseas Vote Foundation and U.S. Vote Foundation. MOVE refers to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, designed to help military people serving overseas and citizens who live abroad to vote in U.S. elections.
Voting from abroad continued to become easier in last year’s U.S. election, thanks to the combined effects of federal law and Internet resources, according to a new study by the Overseas Vote Foundation, a nonpartisan voter-assistance group. Whereas a full half of expatriate American voters surveyed by the group after the 2008 election reported not receiving a ballot or receiving it too late, that figure declined to one-third for the 2010 election and to just one-fifth in last year’s presidential election. “The tipping point is in the use of technology,” said Claire M. Smith, research manager for the foundation. “There’s no going back.”
The absentee voting process has improved in recent years, but many service members and their families still face hurdles in casting their ballots, according to a new report from the Overseas Vote Foundation. The foundation found that compared to overseas civilians, a higher percentage of military voters — 13.8 percent — tried to vote but could not finish the process, compared to 11.2 percent of civilians with the same problem, based on an OVF post-election survey of overseas citizens and military personnel and their family members, as well as local election officials. But overall, there have been improvements in the voting experience for overseas military and citizen voters since the passage of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act in 2009. The 2012 election is the first presidential election and first full-fledged test of the impact of the MOVE Act. “While we acknowledge the tremendous progress and positive trends now visible, continued improvements can still be realized,” the report stated.
Responding to the vocal concerns of American expatriates, the Pentagon agency responsible for overseas voting has agreed not to enforce a requirement for voters requesting absentee ballots to state categorically that they either intend to stay abroad indefinitely or not. In a separate development, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said that it would make it easier for American citizens abroad who have not been filing tax returns — some from ignorance of new requirements — to meet their legal obligations if they owe little or no taxes. Expatriate groups applauded both developments. They had been fighting the ballot requirement, saying its black-or-white language could put overseas Americans in an untenable position and might dissuade some from voting. The groups have also complained about tough — and they say sometimes unfair — new I.R.S. enforcement of tax laws for those living abroad. Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, who heads the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation, called the Pentagon’s decision “a huge win for overseas citizens” and praised the agency for responding to voters’ concerns.
The Overseas Vote Foundation is launching a new domestic voter registration and absentee ballot site in this election season that aims to make it easy for voters to fill out and access state-specific election forms. OVF announced the new initiative, the U.S. Vote Foundation, at its summit at the end of January. The Overseas Vote Foundation, founded in 2005, has been dedicated to making the overseas registration process more accessible through its websites dedicated to military service members as well as the general population of Americans abroad. “We know that one of the things that election officials want the most is that voters use the forms that their state provides,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, OVF’s president and CEO. “Some states use the NVRA to send the voter yet another form.”
Today at the 2012 Overseas Vote Summit in Washington, DC the Pew Center on the States will release Democracy from Afar: States Show Progress on Military and Overseas Voting, a new report updating progress on the issue of military and overseas voting first high lighted by Pew’s 2009 report No Time To Vote.Democracy from Afar finds that “47 states and the District of Columbia enacted laws to protect the voting rights of military and overseas citizens”. More specifically, Pew found that “many states have implemented changes to their laws or administrative codes.”