New Jersey voting accommodation announced

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

One of the biggest problems we face with ensuring election integrity is a secure chain of custody for ballots. This requires a paper ballot (I strongly oppose electronic voting, including the experimental e-mail voting for military and overseas overseas for this reason), and protocols for a secure chain of custody.

I fully appreciate the voting difficulties that some residents of New Jersey (and other states) face as a result of the ill-timed Hurricane Sandy, but I am uncomfortable with the voting accommodation that New Jersey has announced. NJ voters displaced by Sandy will get chance to vote by email:

New Jersey election officials said Saturday that registered voters
displaced by Hurricane Sandy will be able to vote by email — an
electronic process used by state residents who are overseas and service
members
, but a first for voters living in the state, NBCNewYork.com reported.

The
directive is intended to help first responders kept away from home and
their local polling places as well as those displaced by the storm.

Election officials said they will also accept paper ballots through
Monday, Nov. 19, as long as they're postmarked by Nov. 6
, NBCNewYork.com
reported.

"To help alleviate pressure on polling places, we encourage voters to
either use electronic voting or the extended hours at county offices to
cast their vote,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Gov. Chris Christie
said Friday that his administration is making sure residents can vote,
even if their polling stations are without power or no longer exist. The
state also will allow residents to drop by their county clerk's office
to vote.
A specially created text number will allow a voter to see if
his or her polling place is still open.

NBCNewYork.com described the email voting system:

Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin told NBC 4 New York the program is
being run on an honor system
, relying on voters to only use the system
if they truly can't get to his or her polling place.

The procedure, according to Durkin, will be to call or email the county clerk to get a ballot application emailed to you.

Once filled out, you email it back, then get the ballot itself emailed to you.

Durkin said you fill the ballot out and email it back, where it will
be printed, held several days and cross checked to make sure you didn't
vote some other way.

Since officials couldn't figure out a way to confirm a voters name
and print the completed ballot witout an election worker looking at the
voters' choices while handling the ballots, voters will have to check
off a waiver of privacy.

This experimental e-mail voting is being used for military and overseas voters this year under a security protocol worked out with the U.S. Department of Justice, so this may be a reasonable accommodation, but this method should not be encouraged for future elections. This will also result in delaying the certification of the vote by New Jersey.

UPDATE: Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog Thought for Today:

What if Sandy hit Florida or Ohio, and it was up to election
officials there to decide what do to about voters who cannot reach their
polling places?  What if a Democrat election official allowed voting by
email for displaced voters?

We need a national emergency plan for our elections.

One response to “New Jersey voting accommodation announced

  1. Reports I’ve gotten from friends in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties about voting are pretty scary. Six- and seven-hour waits. You might want to do one of your very good posts on what’s going on there, thanks to Rick Scott’s voter suppression. See articles like http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/democrats-sue-to-extend-floridas-early-voting/ and it feels like 2000 again.