Note: Get the most reliable hosting solution for your business by using NetHosting’s cloud hosting service.
New Jersey residents out of the state due to Hurricane Sandy are now being allowed to vote via email on Tuesday.
Tomorrow is election day here in the United States so voters have been busy finding their local polling locations or sending in their absentee ballots. We’ve talked about electronic voting in the past for ex-patriots, but in lieu of Hurricane Sandy, counties and states (particularly New Jersey) on the east coast have been working hard to provide alternative voting methods for displaced citizens. New Jersey has decided to let its residents email in their votes.
Lots of voter laws vary by state, and New Jersey was one of the states in the country that allowed ex-patriots to electronically vote. While this could result in a big increase in New Jersey voter turnout, it could also be highly insecure, since the solution is being hastily put together in time for Tuesday.
Lieutenant Governer Kim Guadagno announced last weekend that anyone who has been displaced by the hurricane would be considered an overseas voter in this election. That means the displaced can request last-minute absentee ballots via email, and can send those ballots back to the government via email. To cover their bases, New Jersey requires a hardcopy of the ballot to be sent in as well to county officials.
Security analysts are cringing at the thought of this system. Matt Blaze, a computer security expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “Aside from the inherent security issues with email, the rushed pace creates the biggest challenges here. Each county now has to work at breakneck speed to develop robust processes for voter outreach, managing ballot requests, processing emailed ballots and secrecy waivers, etc. Basically, each county has less than two days to figure out how to design and deploy a full-scale voting system that the loser of each race will have considerably more than two days to figure out how to challenge.”
Even though the email solution has worked on a small scale, that doesn’t guarantee that it will work on a large scale. The computers that users are voting from could be infected with malware, the email servers that are sending the ballots could be hacked, and there are a myriad of other problems that could crop up. Another analyst, Ed Felten from Princeton, points out that New Jersey is probably making the best of a bad situation.
The bottom line is that no matter what, it’s important to vote on Tuesday. New Jersey should be applauded that despite the barriers and risks, they’re trying to provide their citizens a chance to vote and fulfill their civic duty. To read more about voting with today’s current technology, check out our blog post about candidate support via social networks.