Secretary Bysiewicz, Senator Dodd, and Representative Courtney Support MOVE Act

In a press conference today, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, Senator Chris Dodd, and Representative Joe Courtney expressed strong support for  the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act <Press Release>

While we support our troops and their commitment to democracy, we do not support the MOVE Act in its current form.  We object to one provision of the Act passed by the Senate, passed by the House, and signed by the President.  Like the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the MOVE Act is well intended, aimed a solving a real problem, yet has unintended consequences.

The problem of military and overseas voting has several good solutions that have been used in some states and localities and have been effective.  The MOVE Act incorporates many of those good solutions.  Yet, it also authorizes pilots of electronic submission of actual votes electronically.  As of this time there is no known proven method for the security and secrecy of electronic submission of ballots, no proven method of auding such votes, and the bill contains no mandate for the evaluation of pilots for security and secrecy.

We have written about this issue several times, followed the technical issues with other advocates, security experts, and computer scientists.  Most disappointing is that so many members of Congress supported the bill so quickly, without technical scrutiny.  Most surprising is Secretary Bysiewicz support after her office spent so much time this spring working to remove electronic voting provisions from a military voting bill before the Connecticut Legislature (The bill was eventually changed to eliminate the electronic voting, but never considered by either house).

We point out that our troops are dedicated to defending democracy.  When their votes can be changed or coerced because they are neither secure nor secret, it goes beyond their ballots, it threatens the election results, and the very democracy that they and their predecessors sacrifice to preserve.  Here we see not a conspiracy, but a “domino theory” where prototypes not fully evaluated, lead to acceptance for the military and overseas voter, and then justified for all voting because it “seems to work, the voters like it, and election officials like it”.  In other words, faith-based voting integrity.

References:

Our coverage of the MOVE Act and reaction of advocates in MA to a similar bill.

Technologists Statement on Internet Voting

The Internet and Voting: Worth Doing Right, by Barbara Simons

Secretary Bysiewicz endorsement of a bill that specifically prohibited electronic submission of ballots

Secretary Bysiewicz testimony against the electronic voting provisons of the bill in CT this year

The latest from Verified Voting on the MOVE Act: <Newsletter>

Modified language from the MOVE Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2647, now Public Law No: 111-84) signed by President Obama on October 28. The new law includes, as Section 589, a provision for Technology Pilot Projects, which could include the electronic submission of voted ballots. The new language in the engrossed bill does call on the National Institute of Standards and Technology to work together with the Election Assistance Commission to develop “best practices or standards” within 180 days of the bill’s signing. While the law does not establish any requirement to adhere to such standards or best practices, nor is there a process for determining such adherence in proposed projects. EAC and NIST have announced their intention to produce best practices for Military and Overseas voters by the end of the calendar year. Verified Voting advocates a more thorough security review of any proposed use of the internet for the transmission of voted ballots.

Bills In CT, MD, WA, Risk Security Despite DoD Concerns

Documented threats to the internet and military networks

Update: 12/22/2009 Sec. Bysiewwicz Ob-Ed <read>

Some may say that these changes should have been made a long time ago. I agree. This is a change I and many of my fellow Secretaries of State have sought at the federal level for years, and is similar to a bill I proposed in the Connecticut General Assembly this past legislative session.

I also recognize, however, that we must step gingerly when allowing the electronic transfer of ballot materials to any voters, so as not to compromise the integrity and security of our elections. Still, the MOVE Act is a giant step forward that will guarantee that our brave  Military men and women serving their country overseas will have the opportunity to use the right they are putting their lives on the line to defend. I look forward to implementing it in 2010.

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