WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has put to rest for now the idea of letting U.S. expatriates and soldiers overseas use an Internet voting system in November, saying on Thursday that the security has not been proven to withstand efforts to alter votes.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said it will dispend with the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (search), better known as SERVE, a program that the Defense Department has been toying with for months.
SERVE is being dumped because Wolfowitz and his advisers are uncomfortable with the makeup of the system and have come to the conclusion that the technology is not robust and secure enough to "assure the legitimacy of votes that would be cast," said an official who asked not to be named.
The Pentagon won't give an exact explanation but computer security experiments who last month reviewed SERVE said hackers could easily access this or maybe other Internet voting (search) systems, and that those on the voting end of the network could find ways exploit the system as well. The system also makes voters vulnerable to having information about them exposed.
"Internet voting presents far too many opportunities for hackers or even terrorists to interfere with fair and accurate voting, potentially in ways impossible to detect," the experts said in a statement Jan. 21. "Such tampering could alter election results, particularly in close contests."
Pentagon officials had considered testing the SERVE program during Tuesday's South Carolina primary, but scrapped it the day before the vote.
The decision does not mean the Pentagon is scrapping Internet voting altogether.
"Other technical aspects of Internet voting" continue to be explored, one official said.
A handful of other possible systems are in the works and experimentation with those will continue, but the Pentagon could not guarantee that any of them would be approved for use in the November general election.
About 6 million U.S. voters live overseas, most of them members of the military or their relatives. Overseas voters are still able to vote via absentee ballot.
Fox News' Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.