Internet Voting Not the Solution to Long Lines, Machine Breakdowns, Common Cause Tells Lawmakers

WOODBRIDGE, VA. — The long lines, machine breakdowns and disputes over voter identification that marred the 2012 election will not be solved by moves to permit voting on the Internet, through email or by fax, Common Cause warned today.

Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause’s National Voting Integrity Campaign, told a congressional forum that online voting remains too unreliable and too vulnerable to hacker attacks to be implemented.

“We are talking about our right to vote – a right we cannot sacrifice for what may be a great new idea, but one that is untested and not ready for prime time,” Goodman asserted. She added that “while many ideas will be fielded to alleviate the problems we saw last Election Day, some measures are just not ready for adoption.”

The forum, convened by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., examined weaknesses in voting laws and procedures as well as proposals to ensure that all eligible voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and all votes are counted as cast.

Virginia was the site of some of the nation’s longest lines on Election Day, as heavy turnout combined with a shortage of voting machines in some localities to slow down the vote. In some areas, waits lasted up to three hours, forcing precincts to remain open long past their scheduled 7 p.m. closing times.

Goodman said Common Cause supports online voter registration, which in several states has reduced the confusion that often surrounds difficult-to-decipher handwritten registration forms. More work needs to be done to make online registration available to voters who lack computers or Internet connections, she added, and registrars must have contingency plans in place to deal with computer malfunctions and other problems.

Common Cause recruited several thousand volunteer election monitors and deployed them to key precincts in 13 states to keep tabs on last November’s voting. The workers saw “antiquated voter registration systems, under-resourced election offices, and restrictive voting laws and deceptive practices targeted at minimizing participation by specific populations,” Goodman said.

While problems with voting in Florida and Ohio have been spotlighted in press reports, “problems existed in every state in our nation,” Goodman asserted. “From Pennsylvania and Virginia to California and Arizona and everywhere in between, eligible American voters were turned away because of problems such as improper training of poll workers, faulty voter registration records, and long, long lines.”

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