Yesterday we reported concerns about New Jersey's decision to allow last-minute email voting for displaced residents, and on election day, cracks are beginning to show in the program. As Buzzfeed discovered, a Facebook page for West Orange, New Jersey posted a notice from Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin, informing voters to send ballot requests to his personal hotmail account — presumably because voters are having trouble getting emails through:
Oh no! email box for Essex County Clerk's box is full. No one can email in their ballots cc .@corybooker .@obama2012 #sandy #election2012— Anne Mai Bertelsen (@annemai) November 6, 2012
Trying to email my NJ vote.Not working.Great idea.Too bad it's not working.S.O.S.Please send help. @chrischristie— Judy Speicher Weiss (@JASWJASW) November 5, 2012
We've sent a number of emails to New Jersey election accounts, but have not received any email rejection notices so far. Still, the state's proposed alternative seems to make a bad situation worse: sending confidential election correspondence to any email address is a risky affair, and sending it to a Hotmail account with what could be an easily-guessable password-retrieval question doesn't inspire much confidence in election security.
2nd yikes: NJ County Clerk Hotmail account (ie voter requests) uses mothers maiden name as password recovery questiontwitpic.com/bauvnx— ashkan soltani (@ashk4n) November 6, 2012
"This is unacceptable," Penny Venetis, a Clinical Professor of Law at Rutgers University tells The Verge. "It is illegal and deviates from all New Jersey law." Venetis says the Hotmail account "shows that there is absolutely no infrastructure, rules, or procedures to process e-votes." Unfortunately, the worst may have yet to come, as the New Jersey election may be subject to legal challenge as a result of its emergency voting orders. State officials have not yet responded to our request for comment.
Update: New Jersey's Lieutenant Governor — who's also the state's chief election official — has issued a directive (PDF) extending the deadline to submit ballots by email or fax until Friday, November 9th, at 8PM ET. Voters must still enter their email or fax mail-in ballot application by 5PM ET tonight, but more time has been allotted to vote considering the delays that citizens are facing getting ballots sent back to them.