Electronic voting is a lay term that attempts to broadly capture methods by which a ballot might be delivered, or returned, electronically. The context for electronic voting, however, may depend on where the voting takes place, and how the ballot is stored or processed.
In-person electronic voting
The majority of voting in the United States takes place in person, or through a mail-in ballot. While voting in person, a voter may have the option to use an electronic ballot marking device such as a direct recording electronic voting machine (DRE), or an electronic ballot marking device (BMD). The BMD enables a voter to make their choices via an electronic interface, but prints out a paper ballot for the voter to turn in; it does not record a voter’s vote. The DRE allows the voter to select their vote on an electronic interface, but does not print out a paper ballot for the voter to turn in; instead it records the voter’s vote as an individual, anonymized record on the device. For voters voting overseas, however, electronic voting may be characterized by the ability to receive and/or deliver electronically.
Electronic Ballot Delivery (EBD) is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the delivery of ballot and voter information packets electronically. The packets may be sent to Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters via email, fax, or an Internet-supported application. All states are required to allow the delivery of ballots electronically from local jurisdictions to overseas voters.
Electronic Ballot Return (EBR) is the return of ballot and voter information packets electronically. Ballot and voter packets may be returned via email, fax, or an Internet-supported application. Up to 31 states allow for the return of ballots electronically, thought there are limitations as to what means may be used to return a ballot packet. The remaining 19 states do not allow for electronic ballot return. 1