Will Online Voting Turn Into an Election Day Debacle?

Publication: Time

Author: Alex Altman


10/15/2010 - A little more than 24 hours after online ballots started pouring into the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections and Ethics in late September, it became apparent that something was amiss. Washington's newly elected U.S. Representative went by the name of Colossus. A villainous computer from science-fiction lore captured the city-council chairmanship. And 15 seconds after voters cast their ballots, they were serenaded by the University of Michigan fight song. The system had been hacked.

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Analysts say that online voting is a bad idea born out of good intentions. Overseas voters have a tendency to be disenfranchised by distance: a 2009 analysis by the Pew Center on the States determined 16 states did not provide members of the military, their spouses and citizens living abroad enough time to vote. To remedy the problem, last year Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which requires states to distribute ballots at least 45 days before an election. Still, it's not hard to see why online ballot returns would seem appealing. "The challenge has been explaining the security risk to people who desperately want to improve the plight of overseas voters," says Pamela Smith, president of the Verified Voting Foundation.

Read the entire article Will Online Voting Turn Into an Election Day Debacle? on the Time Web site.

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