Last week I was able to attend a meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee. It was about Internet Voting. The panel consisted of Gary McIntosh of the National Association of State Election Directors, Jim Adler of VoteHere.net, Marc Strama of Election.com, Tony Wilhelm of the Benton Foundation, and Deborah Phillips of Voting Integrity Project. Dr. Lorrie Cranor of AT&T Labs was the moderator.
Just like most of the panel discussions that I've been to over the past nine months, this one was an introductory-level look at Internet Voting. Information-wise, they tend to be pretty worthless for people like myself who work with this stuff every day. However, they're a great place to network and meet new people who work in the same problem space.
A good thing about last week's meeting, in particular, is that it raised the level of visibility and understanding of Internet Voting among the 120 or so Congressional staffers who were in attendance.The ironic thing about it is that elections in the United States are controlled at the state and local level. So, there's a very limited amount that Congress can do when it comes to Internet Voting.
The main thing Congress can do is create permanent, ongoing funding for the FEC to keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of current technology and update their Voting Systems Standards (VSS) on an ongoing, yearly basis. Currently, the FEC needs to seek out special funding to update their VSS -- so it happens very infrequently. Too infrequently. The original FEC VSS was completed in 1990. Only now, 10 years later, are they being updated. The 1990 standards are pretty useless when you try to apply them to modern client/server and Internet-based voting systems. Congress definitely needs to create ongoing funding for this.