Voting Demonstration Project Repealed

Congress has repealed the federal mandate for an Internet voting demonstration project.

Since 2002’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), there has been a provision pending completion that called for an Internet voting “demonstration project” to be conducted by the Department of Defense. In 2004, a system was proffered that the Defense Department commissioned, known as the SERVE project. Ultimately, the Defense Department decided against moving forward with SERVE.

Subsequently, numerous work-arounds, and other language (including the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment [MOVE] Act of 2009) made it unclear whether the Defense Department was still planning to conduct a demonstration project. However, the Defense Department was still very much involved.

There were delays in the process until standards could be established. Members of House and Senate Armed Services Committees, as well as personnel at the Department of Defense, became convinced that Internet voting should not be instituted.

The SENTRI Act bill was introduced in the 2013-14 Congress, and advocates worked to get repeal language inserted into it. At one point, it seemed SENTRI would be folded into the NDAA. When it was unclear if Congress was going to incorporate the language of the SENTRI Act in the NDAA, advocates requested the inclusion of repeal language.

According to the Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (which accompanies the Act):

Repeal of electronic voting demonstration project (sec. 593)
The Senate committee-reported bill contained a provision(sec. 1076) that would repeal section 1604 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law 107- 107) that requires the Secretary of Defense to carry out an electronic voting demonstration project. The House bill contained no similar provision. The agreement includes this provision.

What this means: for us at the Foundation, we view this as a repeal of imposed technical action on Internet voting. However, it does not stop innovation, and innovation should continue in this area and other areas of voting technology, whether to examine and research or to test feasibility, we need to continue to move forward.