Online Voting Moves Closer To Reality

The Defense Department is working with 10 states to develop a Web-based voting program that could let thousands of Americans living abroad cast ballots online.



Americans living abroad, including thousands of military personnel, may get a chance to vote in the 2004 election from any Windows-based computer linked to the Internet. The Defense Department's Federal Voting Assistance Program, known as FVAP, is working with 10 states to develop the Web-based voting system called Serve--Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment.

County election officials in participating states will use Serve to receive voter-registration applications, provide ballots to voters, and accept ballots when they're completed. Existing election-administration systems will be used to process registration and ballots.

In a statement issued by FVAP, director Polli Brunelli says security is everyone's first question about Internet voting, adding that the government made security the driving factor in Serve's system design.

States expected to participate in Serve are Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.

According to FVAP, the government successfully conducted a small-scale proof-of-concept pilot, Voting Over the Internet, for the 2000 election. In that experiment, 84 citizens in 21 states and 11 countries returned ballots to jurisdictions in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, the first time citizens cast binding votes over the Internet for government offices.

Eligible U.S. citizens can register to use Serve in 2004 by accessing its Web site, www.serveusa.gov.

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