Experts cite concerns that absentee ballots submitted electronically are vulnerable to privacy violations and hacking.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 14, 2021) – In a letter released yesterday to the Senate Committee on Armed Services, a group of 27 election security experts and nonpartisan voting rights organizations urged the Senate to not include sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350), as passed in the House of Representatives, that would fund online voting for absent uniformed service and overseas voters. The experts cite research from numerous federal agencies, computer scientists, and national security experts that shows online voting remains insecure and leaves voters’ personal data and vote preferences vulnerable to hacking.

“We have long supported responsible uses of technology to facilitate voting for voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voter Act (UOCAVA), including online voter registration, electronic submission of the FPCA, and electronic blank ballot delivery,” the letter states. “But we strongly oppose policies that promote or expand the electronic return of voted ballots because of the serious and unsolved security vulnerabilities.”

The group argues that the House proposal to fund and expand online voting infrastructure is at odds with findings from the Department of Homeland Security, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A report released by these institutions last year found that secure online voting remains nearly impossible in its current form, as it “creates significant security risks to the confidentiality of ballot and voter data (e.g., voter privacy and ballot secrecy), integrity of the voted ballot, and availability of the system.”

The experts go on to suggest alternatives to online voting that will ease and improve the process for voters overseas without jeopardizing election security, including automatic voter registration for eligible members of the military, automatic mailing of ballots to registered military, expedited ballot return, enhanced ballot tracking, and extended deadlines for the return of military ballots.

“We believe that service members deserve the highest standard of safe and verifiable voting. For the foreseeable future, internet voting cannot meet that standard, and places military voters’ votes – and the trustworthiness of elections themselves – at risk,” the letter concludes.

Read the full letter here.