ACLU Urges Puerto Rico Gov to Veto Electoral Code Bill

SAN JUAN – The American Civil Liberties Union of Puerto Rico (ACLU PR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced urging her to veto Senate Bill 1314, which would make the island’s voting systems internet-based by 2028.

“There is a strong, firm and unanimous consensus among computer scientists that Internet voting cannot be carried out safely and should not be used for general elections, since the risk of undetectable manipulation is too real and accurate. Manipulating elections without detection is extremely simple for the sophisticated hackers of this era. Unfortunately, this knowledge has not stopped well-intentioned but poorly informed governors to promote Internet voting. But government promotion makes it neither safe nor judicious,” Susan Greenhalgh, the vice president of policy and programs at the bipartisan National Election Defense Coalition, said in a statement.

Greenhalgh pointed out that, against the political and expert consensus, Senate Bill 1314 orders the State Elections Commission (CEE by its Spanish initials) to implement online voting as a pilot program starting in these 2020 general elections. In addition, it forces it to extend and regulate said program for the entire island by 2022. And, for the general elections of 2028, the commission must have completed making the online voting system the only electoral method in Puerto Rico.

“This measure is misguided, dangerous, and will needlessly expose Puerto Rico’s voting system to hacking and disruption,” the ACLU told the governor.

“These ill-advised measures…will make Puerto Rico a true outlier: no major U.S. jurisdiction comes even close to trusting its entire electoral infrastructure, on which millions of votes will be cast, to vulnerable, unproven technology,” the letter continues, referring to the internet, which Greenhalgh assured would make the votes vulnerable.

“Hurricane María and recent earthquakes along the southern coast have made clear that the island’s infrastructure—particularly, electrical power systems essential to internet access—remains precarious; it would be reckless to trust all voting systems to its well-being,” the ACLU letter reads.

Read the full text of ACLU’s letter to the governor here.

—Cybernews contributed to this report.