The new ballot box

Arizona this week begins the first statewide election — the Arizona Democratic Primary — assisted by voting over the Internet. Here's how it will work.

On March 7-10, Arizona Democrats may vote from any computer with World Wide Web access. Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator 4.2 and Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 4.0 will be the minimum supported Web browsers. Registered voters were to receive a personal identification number (PIN) after Feb. 23 to use in the voting process.

On March 11, Arizona Democrats can vote at one of more than 90 polling places statewide that will provide Internet access. (Traditional paper balloting also is available.) Voters who have not previously registered may do so at the polling place and receive their PINs for Internet voting.

Voting can be done through the Arizona Democratic Party Web site (www.azdem.org) or the Web site of Election.com (www.election.com), which offers election services to organizations including governments, associations, unions, companies and political parties.

At the Web sites, voters will provide their PINs, along with two pieces of personal authentication that can be matched against voter information records. Upon verification, voters proceed through a series of Web screens. When a voter is through, the PIN is consumed, preventing multiple votes by the same person.

VeriSign Inc. is providing Secure Socket Layer encryption to prevent a voter's information from being intercepted or discerned.

After the polls close at 7 p.m., March 11, the electronic votes will be tallied. Paper ballots will be tallied by hand, and results will be sent to an Election.com data center, where all voting information is stored in a secure database.

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