Tuesday, January 31, 2012

West Virginia is “keeping its options open” for online voting for overseas West Virginians in November, 2012

West Virginia, which broke new ground in 2010 by allowing some of its overseas and military voters to cast their ballots over the Internet in a pilot project, hasn’t yet decided if that option will be available for them in November, 2012.

According to Dave Nichols, Manager of Elections in West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office, the legislation that authorized remote Internet voting on a trial basis in 2010 “has expired and not been renewed.”

As for the future of remote Internet voting for its overseas citizens, “We’re not ruling it out. We may do it again. We haven’t decided yet,” the election official told Etopia News. He said that the pilot Internet voting program “was successful,” but that further study was needed regarding the security and cost of Internet voting systems before a decision could be made on continuing or expanding Internet voting in his state for overseas West Virginians.

In the “Findings” section of a Legislative Report on the remote Internet voting trial from Secretary of State Tennant’s office it was stated that:

“There is no doubt that online voting is a popular option for those voters having the opportunity to utilize the full system. The process is convenient-- allowing the voter to cast a ballot at a time suitable to the time zone in which he is currently located. The process is efficient-- there is no need to print a ballot, travel to a postal facility or access a fax machine. The process is adaptable--accessible to users in a variety of circumstances, including those with limited access to printers, faxes, or traditional mail systems. Following are some of the comments received from online voters:

“'Thank you for allowing Monroe County as a Pilot Program in Voting Online. I am presently in Iraq on assignment with Operation Iraqi Freedom and this online voting process gave me a chance to Vote here while in a Combat Zone. Many of our soldiers last election did not have their vote counted due to being overseas in a combat zone. That was wrong for their vote Not to count. This way that you have developed is excellent. Thank You.'

“'I will be working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for at least the next two years. This program has enabled me to still cast my vote from 8500 miles away. I have nothing but praise for this system.'”

The Legislative Report concludes with a recommendation by the Secretary of State that a study committee be convened to consider “voter participation and feedback, security considerations, cost-per-voter, legislative mandates and administrative requirements.”

According to Manager of Elections Nichols, this recommendation has been implemented through “several meetings with state and local officials.” As of now, he said, overseas and military voters in the May 8th primary election will be able to vote using e-mailed .pdf ballots that they will mark and return by traditional methods.

As for the November 8th general election, he added, “we are keeping our options open.” He elaborated by saying that those options include being able to electronically mark the blank ballot and print it out, before returning it through legacy channels and/or “online voting.”

Asked about the criteria that will be used to determine if online voting will be an option, Nichols listed, “security, cost-efficiency, and what best serves the voter.”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pew Center on the States’ plans to modernize overseas voting don’t include remote Internet voting

The Pew Center on the States is working to modernize the system that allows military and overseas voters to participate fully in stateside elections. According to their web site:

“The Pew Center on the States is committed to ensuring that the election system works optimally for all voters, including those serving in our armed forces and civilians living overseas. Currently, our outmoded system hinders this important group by not giving them time to vote. Pew supports reforms that will bring 21st century technology to America’s election system and guarantee all citizens abroad can participate in our democracy from a distance.”

Their commitment to “bring 21st century technology” to overseas voting does not, however, extend to the use of the Internet for the casting and collection of ballots.

According to Pew Center on the States spokesperson Olivia Doherty, “we have only advocated for using the Internet to send blank unvoted ballots to those voters but have not weighed in on the casting of ballots online.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Overseas Mexicans from Mexico City will be able to vote on the Internet in local but not federal races

Ricardo Alday is the spokesman of the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. He explained to Etopia News this afternoon that the recent Mexican court decision allowing overseas Mexican citizens registered to vote in Mexico City to vote over the Internet only allows them to vote in local Mexico City elections using that technology. As far as voting for federal officials, overseas Mexicans from Mexico City, like overseas Mexicans from the rest of the country, will only be able to do so by postal means.

Asked why only Mexicans from Mexico City will be able to use the Internet to vote for local officials, such as the Mayor and the City Assembly, Mr. Alday indicated that this was in response to a proposal by Mexico City officials, approved by relevant electoral authorities. Mexico City is known as one of the most progressive cities in the Western Hemisphere. With a population of more than 20 million people, it is considered to be at the forefront of social change in many areas.

The embassy spokesman explained further that only registered voters who indicate prior to March 15, 2012, their interest in using the Internet to vote in the July 1st elections will be allowed to do so. He also said that the process of appeal against the decision allowing for the Internet voting was “exhausted,” so that the Internet voting will definitely proceed.

Overseas “chilangos,” as residents of Mexico City are known, can get more information about this worldwide Internet voting opportunity and sign up for the electronic vote at:


“Everybody,” Mr. Alday added, “Is watching this with a lot of attention.”