USACM Releases Issue Brief on Military and Overseas Internet Voting

By David Bruggeman
June 29, 2010

The U.S. Public Policy Council of the Association for Computing Machinery (USACM) has developed an issue brief on internet voting as it relates to military and overseas voters. This issue brief is part of a series, which includes briefs on REAL ID and Electronic Employment Verification Systems.

The brief focuses on the challenges of voting faced by military and overseas voters (UOCAVA voters). In the past there have been many problems with making sure that states can get registration and ballot materials to and from UOCAVA voters in a timely fashion. The recently passed MOVE (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment) Act goes a long way in addressing those challenges, making it much easier for UOCAVA voters to register and vote. Some states allow for the transmission of registration information and blank ballots via the internet, and there is interest in transmitting cast ballots over the internet.

The issue brief addresses the difficulty of effectively auditing those ballots. For that reason, and the security risks of undedicated internet voting (voting conducted from a computer that is not strictly dedicated to voting), USACM recommends that any internet voting be done in such a way that there is an independent record that can be used in the event of an audit or recount. Currently this means a dedicated kiosk system that also produces a paper record. Of course, simply producing those records is not enough to verify the election results, a statistically meaningful audit is required.

USACM strongly encourages that the MOVE Act provisions be pursued with respect to internet delivery of election materials. Should internet voting pilots be pursued, USACM recommends using supervised, dedicated systems that produce paper records. Such pilots must also undergo statistically meaningful audits in order to verify election results and demonstrate the success or failure of the pilots.