CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 4200, RONALD W. REAGAN NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005 -- (House of Representatives - October 08, 2004)
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 843, I call up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 4200) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2005 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed Forces, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, as the Ranking minority member of the Committee on House Administration, I rise today in support of the two provisions in the DoD Authorization Conference Report for FY05 that are under the jurisdiction of my committee. The first provision addresses an innovative electronic voting project and the other highlights the need to support absentee voting.
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense cancelled the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment SERVE project. SERVE is a $22 million pilot program that was designed to test the reliability of Internet voting for 100,000 military personnel and civilians living overseas. Some academics have questioned the security of the system. I agree that any problems should be addressed before we move forward with Internet voting, but this is a very worthy project. If the military can send coded information to installations and battlefields around the world, we should be able to send votes across a secure, private system.
Fortunately, the Election Assistance Commission EAC is now charged with moving the SERVE project forward. Formed by the Help America Vote Act to serve as the clearinghouse for matters relating to elections and the voting process, the EAC is certainly the body best suited for this task. Specifically, it is responsible for establishing guidelines and helping the Secretary of Defense in carrying out the project.
Historically, it is our military that has led the way for our country. Not only in times of trouble, but it has also led the way in technological advances. The military has the opportunity to lead the way again in technology, but this time, in the voting booth. It deserves the opportunity to participate in this landmark electronic voting program.
I encourage the Secretary of Defense to provide the EAC with the additional funding needed to carry out this directive. I also encourage the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue working with the EAC on electronic absentee voting by absent uniformed service and overseas voters casting ballots abroad and others areas where they may have expertise.
The second provision will expand the use of the federal write-in absentee ballot to absent uniformed service voters that have not received voting materials from their state within the deadline prescribed by their state. This will give the absent uniformed service voter the opportunity to participate in the democratic process that they are defending.
Mr. Speaker, I support the inclusion of these provisions in the Conference Report.
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