THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
On September 4, Mac Warner, the Secretary of State for West Virginia, formally announced electronic voting is an option for overseas Americans wishing to vote in this year's US Elections.
Although e-voting has been available in West Virginia for voters eligible under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters Act (UOCAVA) since 2018, the move to issue a press release and statement highlighting the e-voting mechanism for 2020 is a positive indication that US States are beginning to recognize the importance of raising awareness of electronic voting.
Eligible voters under UOCAVA include Americans in the military who are stationed overseas, as well as Americans living abroad. The State of West Virginia has also extended the electronic voting mechanism to those living in West Virginia who have certain physical disabilities which prevent them from easily accessing a polling station.
Explaining the importance of electronic voting for Americans serving overseas in the military, Secretary of State Warner said that "From hillsides in Afghanistan to submarines under the Polar Ice Cap, e-voting eliminates barriers to the ballot box unique to our military men and women serving across the globe ... it is essential we leverage technology to give not just the right, but the actual opportunity to vote to those Americans who put their lives on the line to preserve our democracy."
The press release went on to explain that:
"E-voting is crucial for UOCAVA voters who are experiencing mail service delays and disruptions as a result of their overseas assignments and COVID-19. International postal disruptions have gotten significantly worse due to the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, with more than 150 countries experiencing ongoing delays and over 50 having suspended all inbound and outbound international mail service. By providing an e-voting option, West Virginia is working to ensure that all military and overseas voters – the majority of whom have relied on mail to receive and return their ballots – have a secure and convenient way to vote in the upcoming election."
Commenting on the short and long term future of electronic voting, Forrest Senti, Director of Business and Government Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Center, said that "We look forward to the opportunity to continue exploring the nexus of security and accessibility when it comes to supporting overseas voters- and domestic voters on a limited scale ... The learning from these pilots adds to the definition of what the future of voting may look like, and we look forward to the going process of innovation and discovery."
The e-voting pilot in West Virginia is a collaboration with the West Virginia Secretary of State, Democracy Live, Tusk Philanthropies, and the National Cybersecurity Center. UOCAVA voters who have requested an electronic ballot in West Virginia will receive their electronic ballots from September 18, with ballots needing to be received by State officials by 7:30pm ET on November 3.
If you're a West Virginia eligible voter living overseas, you can find more details on the e-voting program at GoVoteWV.com. Some other States are also offering electronic voting - for more information see www.theamerican.co.uk/pr/ne-States-Accept-Email-Ballots.