Last week, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) adopted a resolution acknowledging both serious security and privacy concerns related to Internet voting and the need for a verifiable, recountable election process. Verified Voting applauds NASS for adopting this official position. Military and overseas voters (also called “UOCAVA voters” after the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) were a major topic at NASS”s summer conference last week in Providence, Rhode Island. States are now working hard to implement a recently enacted amendment to UOCAVA, the Military and Overseas Voter Emplowerment Act of 2009 (MOVE). The MOVE Act’s requirements include delivery of ballots to military and overseas voters 45 days prior to Federal elections and the option for electronic delivery of blank ballots to UOCAVA voters. One of the primary topics at the conference was a policy not required by MOVE: the use of the Internet for the return of completed ballots to election officials. Some states, for example West Virginia and Arizona, are experimenting with various forms of Internet voting, and over 30 states now allow, under varying circumstances, e-mail or fax delivery of voted ballots from UOCAVA voters.
Acknowledging ongoing security and privacy concerns regarding Internet voting, NASS members took up a resolution drafted by Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and amended by the organization’s Elections and Presidential Primaries Committee on July 19. At the Elections Committee meeting, Secretary Dunlap, along with Secretaries Mark Ritchie of Minnesota, Trey Grayson of Kentucky, Jennifer Brunner of Ohio, and Kate Brown of Oregon articulated concerns about Internet voting and the need for effective verification of election results. On July 20, the Secretaries adopted the NASS Resolution Urging the Measured Utilization of Available Technology and Best Practices in the Security and Conduct of Elections Embracing the Participation of Military & Overseas (UOCAVA) Voters. The resolution for an election process that is “accessible, recountable, and secure.”
The NASS resolution does not call for voter-verified paper records for every vote cast, but the word “recountable” evokes the recent United States Association for Computing Machinery (USACM) Issue Brief on Internet voting and UOCAVA Voters. The USACM report concludes:
Without paper ballots, it is impossible to conduct a post-election audit or recount of the internet votes.
USACM is the world’s largest and oldest professional organization of computer technologists and their call for paper ballots resonates with Verified Voting’s Resolution on Electronic Voting; with an ever-growing body of expert studies on electronic voting systems; and with policies in almost three fourths of the states that either require voter-verified paper ballots now or an eventual transition to paper.
Verified Voting urges state election officials to heed NASS’s call recommendation for recountable elections, keeping in mind that with present technology recountable elections are not possible without a corresponding paper ballot verified by the voter.