December 9, 2021

Archives for October 2021

Four 2020 lawsuits over internet voting

Citizens with disabilities (and voters living abroad) must have the substantive right to vote—that’s the law.  Sometimes that turns into a demand for internet voting.  But as I wrote earlier this year, internet voting is dangerously insecure, it’s not what most voters with disabilities want, and there are much better ways of accommodating voters with disabilities, and the states should implement those accommodations.

Last year saw several lawsuits demanding internet voting as an accommodation—that is, the return of voted ballots by internet.  The most recent of these (in New Hampshire) was just recently settled. 

  • In 2020, the National Federation for the Blind sued the State of Virginia asking for internet voting (and other accommodations for voters with disabilities).  The parties settled for no internet voting, but other accommodations for voters with disabilities.
  • In 2020, New Jersey quietly took steps to allow internet voting, were sued on the basis that this would be both insecure and illegal; and then agreed not to pursue internet voting in New Jersey, but to use other means to accommodate voters with disabilities.
  • In 2020, a group of plaintiffs living abroad sued 7 states in U.S. District Court asking for internet voting.  The court denied their request for a preliminary injunction, and then the plaintiffs moved to dismiss the case.
  • In 2020, the National Federation for the Blind sued the State of New Hampshire asking for internet voting, and for accessibility improvements in the State’s election website (that provides information for voters).  The parties settled for no internet voting, but other accommodations for voters with disabilities (some of which New Hampshire already had in place), and for improvements in the web site.

There’s a pattern here.  The courts have not recognized a right to vote by internet; these States have declined to adopt this insecure method of voting; and these States have been willing to adopt other reasonable accommodations for voters with disabilities.

Perhaps it would be a good idea for the NFB to remove internet ballot return from its set of demands, and focus on the other reasonable and practical reforms that they have been requesting (or suing for):  Make websites accessible, improve procedures in the way voters with Print Disabilities are permitted to prepare and return their ballots, and perhaps some of the improvements suggested by Noel Runyan at the end of my previous article.

Added shortly after publication: It has come to my attention that there was a fifth 2020 lawsuit, Taliaferro et al. v. North Carolina State Board of Elections. I’ll write about that in a future article.

CITP Call for Fellows 2022-23

The Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) is an interdisciplinary center at Princeton University. The Center is a nexus of expertise in technology, engineering, public policy, and the social sciences on campus. In keeping with the strong University tradition of service, the Center’s research, teaching, and events address digital technologies as they interact with society.

CITP is seeking applications for the CITP Fellows Program for 2022-23. There are three tracks:

• Postdoctoral track: for people who recently received a Ph.D.
• Visiting Professional track: for academics and professionals (e.g., lawyers, journalists, technologists, former government officials, etc.)
• Microsoft Visiting Professor track: for academics

In this application cycle, we especially welcome applicants with interests in: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Science, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies and Cryptography.

The Center for Information Technology Policy Fellows Program offers scholars and practitioners from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to join the Center’s community. The goals of this fully-funded, in-residence program are to support people doing important research and policy engagement related to the Center’s mission and to enrich the Center’s intellectual life. Fellows typically will conduct research with members of the Center’s community and engage in the Center’s public programs. The fellows’ program provides freedom to pursue projects of interest and a stimulating intellectual environment.

Application review will begin in the middle of December 2021.

For more information and to apply, please see our Fellows Program webpage.