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, read more.

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?

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