Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is online voting a real possibility?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 3:36 PM

WXXI’s Evan Dawson had an interesting show today about elections and local politics. Dawson asked his assembled media panel, which included City’s Jeremy Moule, about the possibility of online voting.

The panel pretty much agreed that consistently abysmal voter turnout would eventually force the powers that be to do….something. What? Nobody’s quite sure.

Online voting sounds enticing, sure, but how long before someone figures out how to hack the system? Trust me, if they can hack the CIA director’s e-mail, the voting system seems like chump change. A 2012 CNN article pointed out a 2010 pilot project “to allow overseas or military voters to download and return absentee ballots over the Internet.” The system was hacked within 36 hours of going live.

And then what do we do? Re-hold the election? Try to sort out the results, anyway? The latter would undoubtedly lead to a slew of lawsuits challenging the outcomes in the races.

There’s also the question of access. How do you make sure that disadvantaged people who may not have ready web access can vote? And how do you verify that the person casting the vote is at least 18? If I butt-vote by mistake, do I get a do-over?

I’m sure, too, that there will be resistance to online voting from politicians who prefer to play to their base and not have to try to win over a broader audience. You need only look at gerrymandering and voter-suppression tactics as examples.


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