Military, overseas voting tech to get boost from grants

Technology to make registering to vote and receiving ballots easier for U.S. service members and Americans living abroad will be getting support from federal government grants, Government Technology reports.

The first six Defense Department grants, part of the Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections program, were announced Nov. 3. The states of Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, as well as El Dorado and Santa Cruz counties in California and King County, Wash., are the first six recipients of the grants, worth more than $7 million. Government Technology reports that jurisdictions receiving the initial six grants serve 134,585 military and overseas voters.

The grant money will go toward the development of electronic systems that will allow service members and other Americans living abroad to cast their votes on time. According to a news release from the Federal Voting Assistance Program, this includes systems that allow for online voter registration, requests for absentee ballots, and delivery of blank ballots. The FVAP release adds that none of the money would go toward developing systems that actually transmit ballots electronically, except in the case of mock elections.

DOD didn't give a reason for that last part, but it could have something to do with the exposure last year of serious flaws in Washington, D.C.'s online system for overseas ballots, the Digital Vote by Mail system. As GCN reported in October 2010, after D.C.'s Board of Elections and Ethics issued a challenge to hackers to have a go at the system, the hackers accepted the challenge — and ultimately breached the system.

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