Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why Aren't We Able to Vote Online Yet?

For those of you not aware, today was voting day for midterm elections.  I am sure most of you voted today, but I am gonna be honest, I did not.  Why?  It's not because I am one of those people that doesn't believe in voting.  I am proud that I have the right to vote, and believe if you don't vote then you lose your right to complain.  But the actual process of voting needs to move into the 21st century.

While I am sure some folks don't vote because they don't want to, I would bet that most folks who don't vote, just don't do it because it is not convenient.  Figuring out where to vote isn't the easiest thing in the world, though Google certainly tries to make easy.  The operating hours at voting centers stink, and so do the long lines and cold weather most folks end up waiting in.

There is an easy way to make this more convenient for everyone; just allow us to vote online.  Now before everyone starts blasting my remarks in the comments let me explain.  I have actually thought this through today on my car ride home from work.


  1. Not everyone has a computer
  2. Not everyone has access to the Internet
  3. Online security/fraud
  4. Some people do not feel comfortable doing things online
  5. Cost

  1. This one is simple, public libraries and mail in ballots.  Let our public libraries become the virtual voting centers of the future.  This would be a good reason to allow federal and state governments to add more funding for our dying library systems.  Also people have a comfort level associated with the library and it will be a good compromise for those who still prefer the old system.  For those who can't get to the library we already have a solution with our current mail in voting/absentee ballot system.
  2. See point number 1.
  3. I imagine this will be the issue most people use as a reason not to do this.  Is there a potential security risk?  Absolutely, there is always a security risk whenever you do things online.  But honestly this would be a more secure solution then today's system.  When people have physical access to the machines (most of which are quite old or are flawed e-voting machines) the security risks are much higher than a centralized server in a secure location with minimal physical access.  The cyber threat could be mitigated with firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems, and something as simple as not have a mail server running on the same network.  There is a risk, but it is either the same or lower then the current system.
  4. All the security in the world will never make some people comfortable.  For them, they could use the mail in ballots, which ironically is less secure.
  5. This is a tough one.  To create this system would be expensive.  Development, maintenance and security monitoring of the network do not come cheap.  But the centralization of the system and convenience benefits outweigh the costs.  Honestly this is a decade old argument that has already been proven with a verity of other systems that have moved online.
This probably won't happen anytime soon since we are too hung up on e-voting machines instead of figuring out a system that actually addresses some of the issues.   Maybe by 2020 we could all be voting from the comfort of our couches, or maybe I should just suck it up and get my lazy butt over to wait in line in the cold to vote.

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