TALLAHASSEE — A small county in the Florida Panhandle that is home to one of the world's largest air bases is embarking on a sweeping experiment in Internet voting that could transform elections in the 21st century.
But the push by Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Pat Hollarn to use the Internet to make it easier for U.S. soldiers overseas to vote is drawing fire from voting activists who call her project ''unsafe'' and contrary to a new law that requires the state to use paper ballots.
Frustrated by the pace of overseas voting efforts undertaken by the Department of Defense in recent years, Hollarn has championed a plan that will let those living on, or near, three military bases in the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan cast ballots in the November election.
During a 10-day period just before Election Day, voters living abroad will be able to enter a computer kiosk and vote on an encrypted electronic ballot, which will eventually be shipped to Florida via the Internet and then counted. Poll workers will be on site to verify that the person is a registered Okaloosa County voter.
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