Call to Action: Michigan Dems seek to open all overseas voting to electronic ballot return
Against the advisement of U.S. Government agencies
Lansing, March 17, 2023. During the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee hearing in Lansing, committee member Senator Paul Wojno was overheard to say that he wishes to take up a bill he sponsored on March 14 to allow “an absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter” to cast their ballots electronically. Wojno introduced Senate Bill 177 on March 14. On the same day, it was referred to the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee.
“This would be a huge mistake,” warned Patrice Johnson, chair of Pure Integrity Michigan Elections. “If this bill passes, it will allow anyone who a checks box and claims to be an overseas U.S. citizen to vote by email. We might as well invite the world to vote in our elections.” Johnson urged Michiganians to contact their state senators and representatives immediately. “Say you oppose this horrible, dangerous bill.”
Sen. Ruth Johnson, one of two Republicans in the minority of the seven-member committee, expressed alarm at Wojno’s bill, saying spouses and overseas ex-patriots “don’t have access to the secure DOD access card system to vote electronically, nor could we check to see if their email ballot was legitimate or not.”
Wojno’s SB 177 would strike out the safeguards and expand overseas electronic voting to include military spouses and non-military registrants. Wojno’s bill would delete the current law’s restrictions on active military only and expand absentee electronic voting to include “an absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter.”
In other words, all overseas registrants, ex-patriots, and military spouses alike, “may electronically return a voted ballot.” The excerpt from SB 177 below makes clear its intent:
…a member of a uniformed service on active duty, by reason of being on active duty, or a member of the merchant marine, by reason of service in the merchant marine, who is absent from the United States and does not expect to return to the residence where the member is otherwise qualified to vote before an election an absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter may electronically return a voted ballot.
Last fall, Senator Johnson sponsored SB 311, first allowing military personnel to vote electronically. Her bill was enacted into law as Act No. 197 Public Acts of 2022 (view here).
Johnson’s legislation was intended to provide active overseas military service members—and only military service members—the ability to return their ballots electronically using common access cards. CAC cards, protected under the highly secure Department of Defense (DOD) system, are available to active military only and would enable them to return their ballots electronically. The change is scheduled to go into effect January 2024 in advance of the next presidential election.
Spouses and ex-patriots, however, do not have access to the secure DOD system. Neither do nonmilitary overseas voters. If the Democrats amend the law, all overseas voters would be allowed to receive and cast their ballots via email.
“If Wojno’s bill passes, there will be no way to verify the authenticity of these voters,” Patrice Johnson said. “These ballots could be changed, lost, duplicated, or falsified in a hundred different ways. For all we would know, they could be coming from the guy next door or from Nigeria. We should call this bill, Let Martians Vote early and often.
When asked, Sen. Ruth Johnson said of Wojno, “He didn’t like my bill that required a military common access card. That means you're serving, and it’s a very secure system, one of the most secure in world.” Alarm filled her voice. “What they are about to propose would be nothing like that. We can’t even check the authenticity [of emails] here. How in the heck are we going to check electronic votes coming from Germany or Japan?”
Patrice Johnson concurred, “The idea of letting military spouses vote electronically outside the secure CAC system is preposterous, let alone overseas ex-patriots, or so-called ex-pats. We can’t even verify that they are real people, let alone that they are citizens."
To register to vote absentee as an overseas resident, a registrant need only go online and complete the current Federal Post Card Application. “No social security number? No problem. No driver’s license or ID? No problem. No U.S. address? No problem. Just check the box, pick an address, and attest that you’re a citizen. You qualify to vote overseas absentee.”
Highlights and comments added to U.S. Federal Post Card Application form by Verity Vote.
Source: https://www.fvap.gov/r3/fpca/my-information. Highlights and inserted comments by VerityVote.us
Sen. Johnson introduced SB 311 in 2021. At the time, Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) opposed the bill in a written statement. Patrice Johnson testified at the hearing, saying, “Do not open the door to online voting with electronic signatures.”
Even so, the bill passed both Republican-controlled chambers, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law on October 7, 2022
Now, it appears, PIME’s worst fears for voter rights could become reality.
Government agencies and congressional bodies warn against electronic voting.
Patrice Johnson feared Wojno’s move was a precursor to throwing open elections for internet voting domestic to the U.S. as well as abroad. “We’re rolling out the welcome mat to the whole world to interfere and vote in our elections.”
She urged Michigan residents to contact their Representative or Senator and urge them to vote No on Senate Bill 0177. The Chairs of the Senate Elections & Ethics Committee may be reached at these email addresses:
Chair: Jeremy Moss (D) https://senatedems.com/moss/
Majority Vice Chair: (D) https://senatedems.com/wojno/
Minority Vice Chair: Ruth Johnson (R) https://www.senatorruthjohnson.com/
Dangers of online voting
Journal of Cybersecurity, Feb. 16, 2021:
“Online voting systems are vulnerable to serious failures: attack that are larger scale, harder to detect, and easier to execute than analogous attacks against paper-ballot-based voting systems.”
"Internet voting, electronic ballots and even blockchain voting “greatly increase the risk of undetectable, nation-scale election failures.”
"More importantly, given the current state of computer security, any turnout increase derived from internet- or blockchain-based voting would come at the cost of losing meaningful assurance that votes have been counted as they were cast and not undetectably altered or discarded.”
U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, July 25, 2019
“States should resist pushes for online voting. One main argument for voting online is to allow members of the military easier access to their fundamental right to vote while deployed. While the Committee agrees states should take great pains to ensure members of the military get to vote for the elected officials, no system of online voting has yet established itself as secure.”
“Risk Management for Electronic Ballot Delivery, Marking, and Return,” National Institute of Standards and Technology, May 2020:
“If election officials choose or are mandated by state law to employ this high-risk process, its use should be limited to voters who have no other means to return their ballot.”
Regarding email return of ballots:…“election officials should be aware…email may be viewed or tampered with at multiple places in the transmission process, and emails can also be forged to appear as if they were sent from a different address.”