Sandy-struck New Jersey to allow emailed votes

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Security concerns raised over measure.

The US state of New Jersey announced overnight that residents displaced by the superstorm Sandy would be allowed to place their votes in the 2012 presidential election by email or fax.

New Jersey was one of the hardest hit by the storm and the measure to allow residents who had to leave the state due to lack of power or having lost their homes was approved by governor Chris Christie with backing from both Democrats and Republicans.

A quarter of the state's approximately 3,000 polling booths were damaged by Sandy. Mobile polling booths have been set up, operated by the National Guard.

A directive (pdf) issued by New Jersey Lieutenant-Governor Kim Guadagno stated that voters displaced from their primary residence by Sandy will be designated as overseas voters and can submit a mail-in ballot application.

The application can be submitted by email or fax to the clerk of the county the voters live in, no later than 8pm November 6, US eastern time. 

County clerks will in turn determine if applicants are qualified voters, in which case a ballot and waiver of secrecy form will be sent electronically to them, via email or fax.

However, John Hopkins University professor Avi Rubin warned that electronic voting carries extensive risks.

"Email accounts get hacked all the time. Just last week, my brother-in-law's email account was compromised," Rubin said.

"If you receive email or fax, you have absolutely no guarantee as to the source of those communications. Email is trivial to forge, and faxes can be spoofed as well."

New Jersey's estimated population in 2011 stood at just over 8.8 million people. In the 2008 election, New Jersey natives voted mostly Democrat.

However, state governor Chris Christie and his Lieutenant Kim Guadagno are both Republicans.

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