There is an awful irony that service members, serving overseas on orders of the president and in keeping with policies set by Congress, have the most difficulty casting their votes. We welcome efforts by the legislature and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to improve the process.
According to the hearing testimony of Emily Trudeau, a Connecticut resident and former Navy lieutenant who worked as a voting assistant overseas, there are many problems. In some instances ballot copies were illegible, other times ballots arrived after elections. A state review concluded roughly 40 percent of ballots military personnel submitted did not arrive at election offices in time, if at all.
That is unacceptable.
Collecting the votes of military personnel, most particularly those involved in combat, is understandably difficult. But the state and nation must make every effort to help those who want to vote successfully do so. There is no reason to continue using outdated technologies.
Ms. Merrill supports legislation that would allow electronic transmission of blank ballots to service members to speed up the process. Proposed legislation would also allow military personnel to track their ballots.
The secretary of the state said she is not, however, ready to endorse email voting. Ms. Merrill cited concerns about privacy, about the ability to verify the voter recorded actually submitted the ballot, and about the potential for hackers to disrupt the integrity of the voting process.
The state will need to address such concerns before Connecticut ever moves to some form of e-voting, but we are confident election officials will be able to overcome these challenges. Millions of banking and other financial transactions, in which privacy and identity protection are paramount, are safely carried out electronically every day. Twenty-eight states use some form of electronic ballot submission for military personnel. In time, such technology may well allow for easier voting by all citizens.
We urge the Office of Secretary of the State to compile information from other states and develop a plan for an electronic voting process by military personnel overseas in time for consideration in the next legislative session. In the meantime the General Assembly and Ms. Merrill's office should should do all they can to assure that the votes submitted are counted.