DOD to use low-tech e-voting

The Defense Department and the U.S. Postal Service will use a low-tech solution so troops overseas can vote in this year's presidential election.

In February, their high-tech solution was canceled because of security concerns. Instead, DOD officials will use the Postal Service's Express Mail overnight service to get paper ballots to and from deployed military personnel.

"Simply put, it's a low-tech solution," said Paul Vogel, vice president for network operations management at USPS.

Postmasters will ask local elections officials to separate military ballots from other ballots to be mailed to USPS international delivery centers. The centers are located in New York, for warfighters in Europe and Iraq; Miami, for troops in Central and South America; and San Francisco, for those in the Pacific Ocean region, according to DOD and USPS officials speaking June 2 at a media briefing.

Postal Service officials will place the military ballots in separate, sealed, 2-

foot-long cardboard trays marked high priority, then dispatch them to military or commercial air cargo carriers. Military Postal Service personnel will sort and deliver the ballots, Vogel said.

Military Postal Service and USPS personnel will repeat the 10-step process after warfighters vote.

They expect to handle 1.3 million ballots for this fall's election, and they expect a two-week turnaround if troops complete the ballots by mid-October — in time for the November election, said Charles Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

In January, computer security advocates questioned the viability of DOD's Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment system. They concluded that the system's use of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and the Internet makes it vulnerable to hacking and the alteration of votes.

On Jan. 30, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz issued a memorandum stopping the use of the system for the election. On May 11, senators recommended in their version of the fiscal 2005 Defense Authorization bill that Congress amend the 2002 Defense Authorization Act to delay an electronic-voting demonstration project until November 2006.

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