Kudos to the Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro for his article “D.C. launches test of open-source online voting” — fine coverage, but with a title that I disagree with in terminology only. I don’t view the D.C. pilot as “online voting” but rather as a test of an additional form of digital transport for return of blank ballots. I say “additional” because of the existing “on-line” features of absentee voting:
- Digital distribution of blank ballots via email or web;
- Digital return of marked ballots via email or fax.
The main point of the D.C. pilot is an alternative to #2. Rather than using open email, the DC pilot will transport ballot documents in a conventionally secured private Web session between the voter and a Web server operated by the DC BOEE. I won’t repeat why open email transport is a problem, but the purpose of the pilot is to produce a worked example that is a solution to at least some of the problems that are specific to email as a way to return a marked ballot document.