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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Should Oregon Study Internet Voting?

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M.O. Stevens
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Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/ho43w2r
The Oregon Capitol.

Oregonians could one day be able to cast their votes through the Internet.

An Oregon Senate panel Tuesday advanced a measure that would study whether the state should enact online voting. But even supporters of the concept say it's a long way from reality.

Oregon pioneered vote-by-mail in the 1990s, and now some lawmakers say it's time to take a big technological leap into the 21st century. They envision a day when voters could use their PC's or smart phones to cast a ballot.

For now, the bill moving forward would simply require the Oregon Secretary of State to study the feasibility of Internet voting.

A Senate panel approved the measure over the objections of some citizens who testified against it.

Roxanne Ross of Gresham, Ore., said online voting would be an obvious target of hackers.

"We don't want to have our votes left to that kind of uncertainty," she said. "We would like to feel that our vote makes a difference."

The debate comes at a time when two state government websites are having high-profile problems. An Oregon Secretary of State database suffered a suspected cyber-attack. And the state's health insurance exchange has still failed to enroll a single online applicant.