is popular among young people. Voting, however, is not popular
among young people. Participating in politics is important. Those
who don't vote must watch while politicians divvy up the available
money and services without their input. What better way to use
technology is there than to enable more young people to vote and
be politically aware?
of voting online isn't new; it's similar to voting by mail except
that the ballots are submitted via keystroke rather than via the
Postal Service. There are concerns that people with more wealth
and better education--who tend to use the Internet in greater
numbers--would skew online elections. However, the point is missed
that, due to the present election structure, richer people already
have a disproportionate say in who is elected.
cannot add any more weight to a seesaw that already has one side
on the ground, but it can induce more people to participate. Already,
dozens of candidates and organizations have Web sites with much
more in-depth information than any 30-second commercial can include.
from the Knight-Ridder News Service included the point that "Californians
could be voting over the Internet in five years with a computerized
system that could revolutionize the state's voting process and
boost sagging voter turnout.
of State Bill Jones is recruiting Silicon Valley's high-tech companies
to study how to make such a system private and secure from fraud.
Momentum is already building nationwide from a pilot project that
would let some overseas military personnel cast votes over the
Internet in the November 2000 election."
is already under development. Again, modifying the secure servers
that have enabled e-commerce to flourish in the last few years
will allow honest elections to be held online. Janelle Brown,
technology correspondent for Salon, said in an interview that
the necessary technology could be available within the next five
companies are working on election server technology including
Votehere, which was profiled in the New York Times this spring.
"As president of Votehere.net, a start-up company that builds
secure Internet voting systems, Jim Adler hears the same question
from investors again and again. They don't ask about politics
or security. They want to know what would happen if Microsoft
moved into the election business. Adler has a ready reply: 'Do
you think the Justice Department would let Microsoft run elections
in this country?'
are focusing their efforts on building the trust of election officials
in their products and reputations. Votehere.net is new to the
industry, but most of these companies are already in the election
business, selling voting machines and computer equipment for reading
ballot results, and they are anticipating demand for Internet
concern with online voting boils down to trust. Kim Alexander,
president of the non-profit California Voter Foundation, said
that personal, not technical, issues were the key stumbling block
toward acceptance of online voting. "A CVF survey showed that
members were supportive with caution," Alexander said in an interview.
"I see online voting supplementing polling places. It will be
a generation before there is more confidence. The state should
provide more information to ease fears."
"There is little trust in what is online," she said. "There is
a lack of familiarity. People don't trust interaction with a machine.
It's not something they're familiar with."
comes to using a computer to vote, Brown predicted that people
will initially be reticent, but it will pass with time.
Brown nor Alexander believed that the Democrats or the Republicans
would be helped or hurt by Internet voting. Alexander ventured
that more independent voters might participate.
described a school of thought that believes "voting should be
difficult." That thinking certainly is consistent with America's
voting history, starting with the Constitution, which permitted
only white, middle-aged men with property to vote. Therefore,
it is odd that critics of Internet voting cite a lack of access
as an issue. From grandfather clauses to literacy tests to poll
taxes, suffrage has expanded only slowly and grudgingly.
even more reason to provide more opportunity to express their
views. The technology, when it is available, must be allowed to
operate effectively. Education, not fear, must be the impetus
behind improving political participation.
thanks to Kim Alexander and Janelle Brown for their time and assistance.
taken from "Californians might soon be voting online" an article
by Deborah Kong, Knight-Ridder News Service, dated Aug. 8, 1998.
taken from "Casting Ballots Through the Internet" an article by
Rebecca Fairley Raney, New York Times on the Web, dated May 3,
© 2000 Tyson Chaney All Rights Reserved
is executive director of the Millennium 3 Foundation, a non-profit,
non-partisan political research and education organization. He
is writing a book, Millennium 3: Political Theory in the Twenty-First
Century, that will be published later this year.
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