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New Jersey allows email vote in Hurricane Sandy's wake

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A week after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie announced Sunday that displaced residents will be able to vote via email and fax this week. The unprecedented announcement could be a preview of how elections are handled in the future.

The email and fax voting system is already in place for service members from New Jersey who are overseas. Now, if a displaced resident wants an electronic ballot, they must email their county clerk, who will then verify the voter's identification. After that, the clerk will send the ballot, which must be returned via fax or email before 8pm on Tuesday.

“Despite the widespread damage Hurricane Sandy has caused, New Jersey is committed to working through the enormous obstacles before us to hold an open and transparent election befitting our state and the resiliency of its citizens,” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said in a statement.

Electronic voting often comes with a stigma of corruption. Critics say it would be easy to tamper with ballots. Most countries don't allow it, although according to TechCrunch.com, a few have tried. One measure to avoid corruption in New Jersey's email and fax system is that all of the electronic ballots are put aside until the polls are closed. After that, the electronic ones are compared to votes cast by mail or at the polls and duplicates are discarded.

University of California Professor Rick Hasen told Politico the email system was flawed, but after a storm like Hurricane Sandy, there weren't many other options for New Jersey.

However, if used successfully in New Jersey, supporters of an electronic voting system could have solid evidence for future experimentation.

Photo via Gov. Chris Christie/Facebook