Internet Voting: Is the future already here?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-1108_OurValues_Election_America.jpgELECTION-AMERICA has been running Internet voting for years. Click this image to visit the firm’s website.Election trivia time: When and in which U.S. state was the first-ever legally binding public election conducted via the Internet?

The answer is Arizona—a decade ago. In 2000, the Arizona Democratic Party used Internet voting for its Presidential Primary. This experience proved that a successful statewide election could be conducted over the Internet. Voting rights groups tried to get an injunction to stop the use of the Internet, fearing that minorities would be disadvantaged due to unequal access to the Internet. But a judge ruled that the Internet could be used because traditional forms of voting, such as voting at the polls and absentee ballots, were still available.

The election was conducted by a firm now called Election-America, which has since run other notable elections. In 2007, for example, it ran France’s 2007 Presidential Primary, which nominated Nicolas Sarkozy. This election set a world record for the total number of Internet voters in a single day.

Welcome to the future?

This week, we’ve discussed the pros and cons of the Electoral College system of voting. Our series was prompted by the latest proposal to abolish the system. But—considering that there have been over 700 proposals to scrap or revamp the Electoral College—it’s doubtful that the latest one will be successful. The Electoral College may be an archaic system, and the reasons for its creation may no longer be valid, but it seems here to stay.

Maybe the proposal about the Electoral College isn’t the key issue after all. With or without it, we can still modernize the voting system by adopting Internet voting. Many Americans want to vote but don’t for a variety of reasons, from the trivial (bad weather) to the serious (shut-ins). Internet voting can be a way of reducing what my economist friends call the “transaction costs” of voting, and ultimately do something important: increase voter turnout. That’s sounds more democratic to me.

Would you support Internet voting for presidential elections?

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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