Vote by email? Are you ******* kidding me, NJ?

New Jersey officials are allowing citizens to vote by email. What could possibly go wrong? They're also allowing voting by something called fax. [Me neither -Ed.]

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers simply can't believe their eyes.

New Jersey seal

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Caleb Garling reports:

New Jersey said it will permit voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote...by e-mail or fax. ... [But] ballots are supposed to be secret...if votes are sent by e-mail, they'll create a record. ... E-mail is not dependable. ...encryption and security measures vary [so] ensuring a secure transaction is tricky.

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Many of us bank and shop online...governments could create similar infrastructure for voting.  MORE

Cecilia Kang and Bill Turque add:

New Jersey’s plan to allow residents...to cast ballots by e-mail could be easily undermined by hacking or other forms of fraud. ... Researchers said there is little to stop anyone from creating new e-mail accounts under the names of residents of disaster-hit areas...and pretending to cast votes for them.

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[But] officials are confident of the system’s integrity [saying] county clerks...confirm the voter’s identity by matching his or her signature against voter registration records [and] the ballot...is set aside until the election is over and checked...to make sure that someone who voted electronically did not also vote in person.  MORE

But Steve Freiss thinks possible SNAFUs won't matter:

Given that New Jersey is expected to be solidly [Democrat] there’s not as much concern about a 2000-style election mess. ... But down-ballot races that are typically settled by fewer votes could be a problem.

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[NJ] voters [can] download absentee ballots and then return them via email or fax. That’s how some overseas and military voters can do it under a little-noticed...law that was used by fewer than 3,500 voters in all races in 2010. ... Malefactors could easily just bombard the email [servers] with spam...disenfranchising everyone.  MORE

However, Princeton Prof. Andrew Appel appeals to our better nature:

If a few people vote by email this time and the state says...“Let’s have more people vote by email next time,” that sets up a really big, fat target for...for real election fraud. ... Surely if we had this kind of scenario in a swing state, it would have been even more of a disaster than it already is.

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21 county election offices have to administer a complicated new protocol at the same time they are recovering from the hurricane. ... All parties have to be able to...trust the outcome of the election, while at the same time preserving the secret ballot. That’s a difficult problem.

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New Jersey already extended the deadline for postmarking absentee ballots. ... These measures are much more reasonable than the return of voted ballots by email.  MORE

And Mike Masnick murmurs:

the directive...left out the line about submitting the hardcopy, and the law is not clear what happens [when] the hardcopy is not sent as well [which] is raising reasonable concerns.

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If the voting in New Jersey turns out weird tomorrow, the conspiracy theories are never going to stop.  MORE

Meanwhile, the reality doesn't look good, as Ben Smith explains:

The email address listed on the website of the Morris County Clerrk...is not receiving email. Nor is the email...listed on the website of the Essex County Clerk [who] posted to his Facebook page Monday that voters could email requests to his personal Hotmail account.  MORE

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