Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /home/public/wp-config.php on line 27
We Made The Big Time — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

We Made The Big Time

Well, for Okaloosa County, the Miami Herald is big time.

Gary Fineout of the Miami Herald write about a local voting effort: Web vote offered to military abroad

TALLAHASSEE — A small Panhandle county that is home to one of the world’s largest air bases is embarking on a sweeping experiment in Internet voting that could transform elections in the 21st century.

But the push by Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Pat Hollarn to use the Internet to make it easier for U.S. soldiers overseas to vote is drawing fire from voting activists who call her project “unsafe” and contrary to a new law that requires the state to use paper ballots.

Frustrated by the pace of overseas voting efforts undertaken by the Department of Defense in recent years, Hollarn has championed a plan that will let those living on, or near, three military bases in the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan cast ballots in the November election.

During a 10-day period just before Election Day, voters living abroad will be able to enter a computer kiosk and vote on an encrypted electronic ballot, which will eventually be shipped to Florida via the Internet and then counted. Poll workers will be on site to verify that the person is a registered Okaloosa County voter.

Hollarn, an elections supervisor for the past 20 years, views her “distance balloting project” as just another type of absentee ballot that uses the Internet instead of the mail. The ballot will have all of the federal, state and local races that appear on the one used in Okaloosa County.

“This is strictly an alternative method of absentee-ballot delivery and return for people where mail is a significant problem,” Hollarn said.

While the project is open to any Okaloosa voter living abroad, the thrust is clearly aimed at military voters. Okaloosa County, home to sugar-white sand beaches and fewer than 200,000 residents, is also home to the massive Eglin Air Force Base.

Hollarn, whose husband was in the Air Force, has set up a private group to help with the project. The group has the military-sounding name of Operation BRAVO Foundation. BRAVO stands for Bring Remote Access to Voters Overseas.

In the chaotic 2000 presidential election, overseas ballots returning to Florida became one of the flash points during the contentious recount that resulted in George W. Bush narrowly winning the presidency. The campaigns of Bush and Al Gore battled over whether to accept overseas ballots received after Election Day that lacked a postmark to show when the ballot was cast.

“We just want to make sure there is ballot security, we want to make sure the system is sound, we want to make sure that voters’ ballots are timely received,” [Florida Secretary of State Kurt] Browning said.

Hollarn, who has lined up volunteers and has used only $50,000 of taxpayer money for a project that may cost as much as $700,000, said that even if the project doesn’t pan out, it will be worth the time and effort.

“We could possibly fail, but if we fail, we have learned something not to do,” Hollarn said.

“I believe we are on the right track.”

First off, you can’t believe how angry Pat, nominally a Republican, got when the Bush campaign implied she wasn’t counting all of the absentee ballots in the 2000 election, and she was ordered to include ballots that had been thrown out as defective.

She is just as Air Force as I am and she would never consider not allowing people who were deployed the ability to vote. She is also a realist, having been stationed all over with her husband, and knows that the military postal service is often a “space available” operation, i.e. if the military needs to ship something on a particular aircraft, the mail is going to have to wait, because military requirements have first priority.

Normally things move through the military system faster than the regular post office, but there are no guarantees. At many locations the post office is manned by part-time people who have full-time military positions that take priority. Service on ships is even spottier.

Pat is trying to find a way to make the system work for people who are very poorly served at the moment. She was not an early adopter, and her initial web site was a disaster and the object of several letters [the e-mail system wasn’t working at the site, which was my first complaint]. I bugged her about using encryption and a secure site when she first introduced on-line registration changes. She has obviously become more involved with the ‘Net, but we still use paper ballots, except for a few voting machines for people with disabilities. She’s good people and conservative, in the best sense of the word, when it comes to voting and technology.


1 Kryten42 { 05.27.08 at 2:21 am }

It’s a nice idea. 🙂 But has many practical problems, security being the primary one. Also… with the realities of the current (and probably future) Admin controlled Pentagon, giving Military personnel deployed overseas easy internet access is the last thing they want. I suspect they would rather allow them to run a blog than vote easily! 😉

Still… I hope she pushes for it! If for no other reason than watching the GOP minions squirm and pop up many talking points about why it’s such a BAD idea! LOL

2 Kryten42 { 05.27.08 at 2:23 am }

I should add, I suspect many Dem’s will also think it’s a bad idea.

3 Bryan { 05.27.08 at 12:30 pm }

Many Dems will make the assumption that because Pat is a registered Republican, she is cooking up a new way to help the GOP. Pat is a professional who came up through the ranks at the Supervisor of Elections office and became a Republican because that is the dominant party. She doesn’t “do” politics, she does elections.

There was a big push for the touch-screen voting machines after 2000, and she refused, as she didn’t see any reason to spend the money. The current mark/sense ballot system we use works, and we have to worry about power issues related to hurricanes. She is prepared to go ahead with an election using oil lamps and hand counting if necessary, she doesn’t want to depend on electricity.

Some of our polling places were without power for a month after Hurricane Ivan because they are small churches in isolated communities in the pine woods, not exactly on the top of the power companies priority list for repairs.

The absurdity is that the military could do this easily with a secure link from the Judge Advocates offices on every base back to the US. Including the voting information for military personnel is a trivial thing, and identification of voters is not exactly a problem.

There is no reason not to do this, if the military was really interested. It’s not like giving massive numbers of people leaves to go home to vote, as occurred in 1864 during the American Civil War.

4 andante { 05.27.08 at 9:21 pm }

This Dem, for one, thinks giving all registered citizens quick and easy access to voting is an excellent idea, and I don’t care which party comes up with the idea and means.

As long as security issues can be addressed, where’s the beef?

I do, however, kind of like the idea of letting the military in Iraq come home to vote and do whatever else they would like to do….

5 Kryten42 { 05.27.08 at 9:56 pm }

Sorry adante! I should clarify… I meant the Dem politicians. 🙂 I know that many (perhaps even most) Dem citizens would be all for the idea. 🙂

Can’t argue with you on that Bryan, sadly. We all know that the ONLY reason the ‘Gang Of Perverts'(tm) wants the electronic voting systems is because they can rig and control them. And whilst many Dem (Politicians) are publicly saying they are against them, I have seen very few *really* try to stop them! The Dem poli’s want control as much as the GOP.

6 Bryan { 05.27.08 at 11:10 pm }

Actually, Andante, I may send Debbie Wasserman-Schultz a letter suggesting that she introduce a “Let the Troops Vote Bill” that mandates the military give all legal voters in uniform a round-trip ticket and non-charged leave time to vote in Federal elections. It will guarantee a major upswing in military voter registration and participation. My own Congresscritter doesn’t even provide robo-mail responses.

One of the things that really bugs me is that I’m not hearing about the desire of candidates to dismantle the illegal apparatus that has been constructed since 2001, and moves to make it easier to vote.

I fear that politicians are looking at the possibilities of control with the system that is currently in place, rather than the clear violations of the civil rights of all Americans.

7 Kryten42 { 05.28.08 at 12:57 am }

There are a few candidates. But they are not being supported by the Dem or GOP machines (sic).

You would know about Clint Curtis running against Feeney there. BradBlog had a good blog up about that last month:

An Exclusive Interview with Election Integrity Advocate, Vote-Rigging Whistleblower and Congressional Candidate Clint Curtis

Oh! Check this one out also. 😀 What was that about USA hating Venezuela? LOL

Exclusive: Voting Machine Company Chief Lied to Chicago Officials About Ownership, Control of Company

And Brad seems to feel similarly to you about what happened in Florida:

Democratic Party Insiders, Mainstream Media – Rather Than Voters – Select Florida Congressional Candidate

I first came across Curtis relating to the Tom Feeney vot rigging scandle in ’03, then the Ray Lemme *suicide* (murder) investigations Brad began in ’05.


One thing is for sure… nothing much will change until crooked morons like Senators Feinstein and Bennett are replaced (or hung from a tree as an example to others). 🙂 These two in particular are sooooo cheerleading the current voting machines, they HAVE to be getting paid by ES&S and Diebold! Feinstein is definately one Dem politician the people can do without! Info here:

Keep in mind, we are going to save the most troubling aspect of this report for the very end, so those of you who can take no more of this garbage, will be able to bail out before hand.

If you can take it, prepare to be amazed by the end, as we wend through the massive failures in Arkansas last Tuesday, through mind-blowing new (disastrous) federal “Electronic Voting Reform” legislation just announced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with Sen. Bill Bennett (R-UT), before landing in West Virginia, where a candidate on last week’s ballot assures us everything is just fine because the guy spotted by voters opening up the voting machines and going inside of them to make adjustments at the polls during Election Day was him.

It’s as bad as it sounds. Read on, if you feel strong enough, otherwise, abandon hope all ye who enter here…

Who Could Have Foreseen It?!…Apparently not Senators Feinstein and Bennett Who Have Announced New Federal Legislation Which Will Allow the Use of These Very Machines for Years…

Ummm…. What was that about Civil Rights? Yeah.

8 Bryan { 05.28.08 at 2:15 pm }

Diane Feinstein is, was, and always will be a corporate shill. She has ties to so many “industry groups” that she has her choice of corporate directorships if she decides to retire.

Every time I hear called a California liberal I want to puke. The woman is to the right of Phil Gramm, which is well to the right of Genghis Khan.

People think the House of Lords is elitist, but every current US Senator is worth a million dollars [US]. It isn’t likely any of them know much about the working class.