Pentagon backs off e-voting

The Defense Department stopped plans to let overseas personnel use the Internet to vote in the November election.

The department considered using the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment system. But a Jan. 30 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, officially halted procedures to use SERVE, a DOD spokeswoman said Feb. 5.

In the one-page, two-paragraph memo Wolfowitz said he made the decision, "In view of the inability to ensure legitimacy of votes cast using this system thereby bringing into question the integrity of the election," the DOD spokeswoman said.

The Defense Department will continue efforts that would let overseas personnel vote using the Internet. Wolfowitz said in the memo that he could revisit his decision in the future, the spokeswoman said.

A group of computer scientists last month urged the department to abandon plans for Internet voting. They concluded that SERVE lacked sufficient security because it uses Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and standard Internet technologies.

"The flaws are unsolvable because they are fundamental to the architecture of the Internet. It's simply not secure enough for something as serious as the election of a government official," said David Wagner, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley in a statement.

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