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Inside Politics

Pentagon halts Internet voting system

By Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has halted a Pentagon project that would have allowed military personnel, including troops deployed overseas, to vote via the Internet in the November presidential election.

Wolfowitz said the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE) could not guarantee voting records would be kept secure, thereby calling into question the integrity of the process.

The Defense Department will continue to investigate other methods of electronic voting, but at this point it is not clear if any effort will be in place by Election Day. There have been other failed efforts to launch electronic voting for the military in the past.

SERVE was designed to replace "snail mail" absentee ballots with an Internet-based system. A military member would have been able to use a Windows-based computer and an Internet browser to vote without having to wait for a paper absentee ballot.

It was expected to be particularly valuable for personnel in remote locations such as rural Iraq or Afghanistan. Voters also would be able to register to vote, check the status of their registration or ballot availability, request a ballot and see their vote counted.

Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Washington had expressed interest in the SERVE project.

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