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Can Online Voting Maintain Election Integrity?

What's a few million extra ballots between friends? In Zimbabwe today, opposition leaders are accusing the government of printing 3 million extra paper ballots, enough to change the outcome of the Mar. 29 election. It's yet another harbinger of potential voting fraud to come. Though most of us probably agree voting integrity is essential to democracy, Africa is not the only place where the authenticity of an election is threatened.

For the past few months, the Democrats have been grappling with what to do about the Michigan and Florida primaries. Online voting has been proposed as a potential solution. Since paper ballots have been historically imperfect, and electronic voting machines are still proving problematic, maybe it's time to bring this whole voting thing online!

Millions of Americans go online to shop, pay bills, sell, bank, and pretty much to do anything! I think online voting could be the future, as it is cheap and efficient. Voting would probably take no more than one minute, and you could do it at home, work, wherever . . . assuming you had a computer. Which brings us to one of the potential problems. For some of the drawbacks,


Online voting could disenfranchise those without internet access, like the poor or elderly, especially if it's used as the exclusive means of voting. Also, the results could be susceptible to fraud, hacking, or innocent technological glitches. So, it might not be the best solution for Florida and Michigan, as there is not much time to guarantee protection from abuse.

Should we start developing secure methods of voting online, and inevitably increase voter turnout? In fact, a system has been used before. The Michigan Democrats voted online in 2004's primaries, and the Democrats Abroad used the internet last month without any problems. The reality: no voting system is free from fraud. So, is it time to check the cyber box?


Join The Conversation
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Hypnoticmix, the technology you're suggesting would work for electronic voting machines at polling places, but not for online voting like this article suggests. To me, I think it would be interesting to offer online voting as one option in the future, but I still think polling places should remain open for those without Internet access. I think it's something worth looking in to, but am still not sure it's the best idea, particularly from a cost/benefit standpoint.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I understand your point regarding e-security Jillness during the actual election. The technology that is being used in those voting machines is sub-standard to what they could be using. The technology is out there, trust. It's not perfect and nothing will be but it's a lot better. The cost to implement such a system would be great but once in place it would pay us back in efficiency and peace of mind.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I agree stephley! In LA County, 50% of the indepedant vote didn't count because the polling volunteers weren't giving the correct instructions (you had to mark 2 bubbles if you were independant). I don't really know what I distrust the most: computers which are vulnerable to hackers, or humans which are vulnerable to being stupid. hypnoticmix, what you have said suggests security at the point that the vote is made, but are their any protections for where the results are gathered? I have heard so many stories about electronic voting machines being at risk for results tampering, and I wonder if online voting could be tamper resisitant in that area as well.
stephley stephley 9 years
See, I was going to say no to online, but I figured someone more knowledgable could explain why it might work. It would take a while for me to feel comfortable depending on online voting, but when I think about where my mail-in ballot might have ended up last month, I have to admit I'm just being a luddite. thanks, H.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Online voting! Great idea. I mean, who's ever heard of anything going wrong with computers or online technology?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Actually there is a way to do this securely. The technology is just not a house hold name yet. This can be accomplished with retina and finger print scanning devices.
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