Flagship online voting suspended ahead of election

A system that would allow American citizens overseas to vote in the November election online is not quite ready for prime time after serious security concerns came up last week.

Thanks to a measure called the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act last year, precints over the country are beginning to implement new ways for military officers and other Americans who are out of the country in November to still be able to vote.

A system in the District of Columbia went up for public testing earlier this month to see if it was hackable. And boy, it sure was. Computerworld reports that someone was able to find out how to remotely take control of the entire system, giving them access to not only every vote that was cast but also the ability to change the entire system itself. A University of Michigan researcher was able to remotely tweak the program to play the school’s fight song every time anyone else cast a vote.

Needless to say, the test failed election officials’ security requirements and it has suspended the system for now.

This is not the first time the country has tried online voting. In the 2008 presidential primary, the Democrat party let overseas voters cast their ballot online, though this was only available at specially designated US offices around the world that were staffed with officials who validated each person’s identity in person. This group of people received its own delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

It’s unclear if the online voting system will be fixed in time for the November election, but it is unlikely.

The MOVE Act was not for naught, though. Overseas voters can still log onto a website to download an official ballot and then mail, e-mail, or fax it back to their local election office.