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Online Registration and Voting Experiment to Be Launched

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2003 – A DoD voting experiment in the 2000 presidential elections that allowed military and overseas voters to cast their ballots through the Internet will be expanded in 2004.

Beginning this fall, the Federal Voting Assistance Program hopes to get as many as 100,000 military personnel - stateside and overseas - their eligible dependents and U.S. citizens living outside the United States to take part in the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, said Polli Brunelli, the program director. SERVE covers only those U.S. citizens who fall under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Mandated by Congress, the project eligible voters from participating project states will be able to register and vote electronically via any Windows-based personal computer with Internet access from anywhere in world, Brunelli said.

In the 2000 experiment, 84 citizens located in 21 states and 11 countries voted in jurisdictions in South Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Utah, proving the theory that online voting could work for voters wherever they lived, Brunelli said.

"We conducted a small 'proof of concept' experiment for the 2000 presidential election, and it was very successful. Now we are conducting another electronic voting project. Congress wants it to be large enough to be statistically relevant. This will allow us to make supportable recommendations to the Congress on the future of Internet voting for UOCAVA citizens," she said.

Brunelli noted that 10 states are interested in participating in the 2004 SERVE project: Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington.

"We're looking for volunteer voters to participate in the project," she explained, "and we have a Web site where interested voters can see if their voting jurisdiction is participating in the project. Beginning later this year, the voter can sign up, then register and be able to vote in the 2004 elections."

According to Brunelli, local and state election officials will use the SERVE system to receive voter registration applications, provide ballots to voters and accept voted ballots.

Brunelli said security during the registration and ballot process is a primary concern. SERVE will utilize digital signatures for registration and ballot encryption as part of the security features.

"People are concerned about Internet security. We've looked at the threats that could happen to this type of system, and we've developed mitigating measures to guard against those threats," she said.

Brunelli said that not every county in states participating in the experiment will be part of SERVE. She said voters can find a list of participating jurisdictions at the SERVE Web site. However, she added that those counties that do participate will include the "full ballot" for that election -- local, state and federal.

The experiment's official Web site can be found at www.serveusa.gov. [link no longer available] For more information on SERVE or the Federal Voting Assistance Program, go to www.fvap.gov.

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