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Florida investigating 2,500 fraudulent online ballot requests in Miami election

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US Election Voting Ballot booth (STOCK)
US Election Voting Ballot booth (STOCK)

The online system that allows voters in Miami-Dade County, Florida, to request paper absentee ballots received "more than 2,500 fraudulent online requests" ahead of the county's August 2012 primary election, according to a grand jury report originally published last December. The election software flagged the requests as invalid and didn't mail out the paper absentee ballots, halting the fraud attempt. Nonetheless, the state government wants to find those responsible. The Florida attorney's office recently reopened an investigation to locate the users of three US-based IP addresses that were linked to the requests, as NBC News's Open Channel blog reported earlier today.

Many phantom ballot requests came from overseas proxies

Many of the phantom requests also came from computers masking their IP addresses through anonymous proxy websites overseas, meaning investigators weren't able to trace them and find out who was behind them, let alone their motives. The initial investigation was closed in January without naming any suspects. Cyber law and election experts told NBC that they thought the incident was the first reported case of someone trying to "attack" an online election system in the US, though again, it's worth pointing out that election outcomes weren't impacted and the actual ballots still had to be sent in via snail mail. At the least, the incident is a good reminder of why many election departments in the US are hesitant to embrace fully online voting systems despite the fact that secure online voting is technically feasible.