E-mail voting

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The Kansas City Star

Matt Blunt, Missouri secretary of state and GOP candidate for governor, wants to widen voting opportunities for service people overseas. On its face, that is a laudable goal. ... But Blunt's plan to allow service personnel to e-mail their absentee ballots home needs a lot of work. E-mail can be subject to tampering, and every vote needs to be counted as it was cast. ...

Unfortunately, if soldiers choose either a fax or an e-mail to transmit a ballot, their votes are not private. That is a disturbing variance from what American voters have come to expect. ... Service personnel already can vote by fax in Missouri and in a number of other states. ...

But there is one crucial difference: A faxed ballot now goes to an election official. The e-mailed ballots would be handled by a private contractor for the Defense Department at the contractor's offices. The contractor chosen for this task, Omega Technologies, is the wrong one. ,,, Its chief executive, Patricia Williams, serves on the National Republican Congressional Committee's Business Advisory Council. ...

Major races in November in Missouri, ... could be close. Democratic and Republican election judges should oversee the transmission of the ballots to the county clerks' offices. Military personnel should be allowed to cast their ballots away from superiors who might put pressure on them to vote a certain way. And the contractor should be politics-free. ...

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