Defense doesn't learn much from its e-voting pilot

Defense doesn't learn much from its e-voting pilot


During the November presidential election, the Defense Department expected nearly 500 civilian and military employees to participate in an electronic-voting pilot. Only 84 voters did.

Officials said the tally makes it difficult to determine whether electronic voting would appeal to the 84,000 federal employees and 249,000 armed forces personnel working overseas.

Right now, DOD systems could not handle that many Internet votes, said Scott Wiedmann, deputy director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
Full results of the pilot will be released next month, he said. Wiedmann spoke to Florida election supervisors during their recent conference in Orlando.

The federal personnel who did participate in the pilot voted from 28 states and territories, and 12 countries, Wiedmann said.

As backup in case of problems with the electronic system, the 84 voters also mailed in paper absentee ballots.

Participating in the pilot were Okaloosa County and Orange County, Fla.; Dallas County, Texas; Weber County, Utah; and the state of South Carolina.

Security test

To ensure the security of ballot transmission, DOD hired contractors who attempted to penetrate the systems. They were unsuccessful, Wiedmann said.

Several layers of security, including 128-bit encryption, were used to 'achieve acceptable risk reduction,' he said. 'The integrity of the digital certificate was maintained.'

The servers for the pilot were in locked rooms, and units set up in the counties were also secure, he said.

Project managers used existing equipment, so the cost of the pilot was difficult to determine.

'The question is how to jump to a fully operational system,' Wiedmann said. Each state would have to buy the technology.

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