15 November 2011
Election Day was recently held across the country, and, as has been the case in recent years, the topic of voting via the internet has come to the forefront. CNN.com discusses the topic in the article “Why Can’t Americans Vote Online?” The article presents both sides of the argument, with the conclusion that there won’t be widespread internet voting in the United States in the foreseeable future.
When you think about all the ways our society has advanced over the past twenty years, it’s almost unbelievable that online voting isn’t the norm. After all, we do nearly everything else online: pay our bills, set up appointments, purchase concert tickets, and even vote in various inconsequential polls. But the primary concern in rolling out online electoral voting to the masses is security. There is a strong argument for the fact that our computers are not secure, and are vulnerable to viruses and hackers that could tamper with the votes.
On the other hand, countries like Canada have experimented with online voting in certain municipalities with great success. Part of the appeal of online voting is not only convenience, but participation as well. People can always come up with an excuse not to head to their local polling station (“I have to work late,” “I need to pick the kids up from school,” etc) but online voting greatly decreases the validity of those excuses. According to the CNN.com article referenced above, early voting increased 300% the first year that online voting was allowed.
It seems that online voting will have to become more widespread at some point, but in the meantime, we’ll continue to head to our local polling stations.