In 2012, Sgt. Kevin Townley’s vote didn’t count. He mailed it from the United Arab Emirates, but it never got to hometown of Trumbull to be counted.
Townley said that while some people would rather get medals, “I’d just like my vote to be counted.”
Townley, who serves in the Connecticut National Guard, is not alone.
The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office found that 40 percent of the absentee ballots transmitted to members of the military overseas were never received and never counted.
That’s why Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, and Rep Russ Morin, D-Wethersfield, are proposing legislation that would allow overseas military men and women return their ballots by fax or email.
Currently, military men and women serving overseas can receive their ballot by fax or email, but they have to return it through the postal service.
Slossberg said that when the Secretary of the State was asked to calculate the number of military ballots distributed and returned, they expected to hear about 20 percent got lost in the mail, but 40 percent is unacceptable.
She said the legislation would make returning the ballot by fax or email optional. Some say the military voter then gives up their right to privacy because the person tending to the fax machine or receiving the email would see how the person voted.
“We think they’re capable themselves of deciding how they would like to cast their vote,” Slossberg said.
“We clearly have a problem and we clearly have a solution — it may not be perfect but it moves us in the right direction,” Slossberg said.
However, there is opposition to the measure.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill last year which included the same provision.
“I agree with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill that this provision raises a number of serious concerns,” Malloy wrote in his veto message. “First, as a matter of policy, I do not support any mechanism of voting that would require an individual to waive his or her constitutional rights in order to cast a timely, secret ballot, even if such waiver is voluntary. Second, as the Secretary of the State has pointed out, allowing an individual to email or fax an absentee ballot has not been proven secure.
“To be clear, I am not opposed to the use of technology to make the voting process easier and more accessible to our citizens,” Malloy continued. “However, I believe that these legitimate problems have to be carefully studied and considered before enacting such a provision.”
Luther Weeks, executive director of Connecticut Voters Count, said fax machines and emails can be compromised.
“All network communications are subject to interception, substitution, or deletion. Military voters and registrars are not exempt from these problems,” Weeks planned to testify Tuesday.
But Morin and Slossberg said there are 29 other states that already allow voting of this kind to take place.
“Some of these men and women are stationed at outposts halfway around the world,” Morin said. “But that shouldn’t stop them from having their vote count.”