Internet voting experiment launched

SERVE site

The Defense Department, along with 10 states and several counties nationwide, has begun conducting a congressionally mandated Internet registration and voting demonstration for the 2004 election.

The Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE) will enable thousands of absentee uniformed services personnel, their dependents and other

U.S. citizens based overseas to register to vote and cast their ballots from any Internet-accessible, Microsoft Corp. Windows-based computer worldwide.

County election officials will use the SERVE system to receive voter registration applications, provide ballots to voters and accept voted ballots. Those officials will use their existing election administration systems to process registrations and ballots, said Polli Brunelli, director of DOD's Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).

Security was the "driving factor" in the SERVE system design because it is the top challenge associated with Internet voting, Brunelli said, adding that FVAP officials are working with state and local election officials "to ensure that the integrity of the electoral process is maintained."

A small-scale proof of concept pilot involving 84 citizens located in 21 states and 11 countries successfully returned ballots to jurisdictions in Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Utah for the 2000 election. That project, known as Voting Over the Internet, was one of the first times that binding votes were cast over the Internet for federal, state and local offices. The new SERVE system will build on the knowledge and experience that FVAP gained, Brunelli said.

States expected to participate in SERVE are Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

All eligible absentee uniformed services personnel and U.S. citizens overseas are encouraged to use SERVE to register and vote in 2004 by logging on to www.SERVEUSA.gov, Brunelli said.

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