Article first published as It’s Time to Drag the U.S. Voting Process into the 21st Century on Blogcritics.
With the election just around the corner, I am back to musing about our antiquated system for casting and counting ballots. This leads me to the question: When is the United States going to drag the voting process into the 21st century?
In many parts of the country, we pull levers on mechanized ballot boxes. Here in Southeastern Michigan, the ways one casts a ballot is as varied as the number of small communities in the Detroit metro area. I can only imagine the chaos when you fold in the various states with their methods.
I’ve voted in small rooms that mark the ballot as soon as the curtain is opened and used Sharpie markers on paper ballots nearly shoulder to shoulder with the next citizen. I’ve been checked for ID and not checked for ID.
Why this country persists in fulfilling its civic duty by using outdated and flawed methods that allow for fraud and misuse is beyond me. All one needs to do is remember the 2008 election in which dead people, illegal and legal resident aliens and Mickey Mouse had their votes counted. Others voted, and voted often, or were trucked in from other states to vote. Some inmates cast ballots. Mail-in ballots, many from those outside our country and are often serving in our Armed Forces, are lost in the mail and not counted at all.
Voter fraud devalues the votes of those of us who are legally in the system.
There should be a better way of piecing a crazy quilt of voting techniques into a streamlined, sensible operation. The answer is literally at our fingertips.
You would think young liberals (like our President) who are already plugged in to an electronic world would embrace the idea of using the Internet for voting.Some may argue the safety of using an online platform for casting votes. I disagree. Most people do their banking and payments online now as it is through secure servers. The government has its own secure servers in areas of defense and even through the Department of Education. Do you think I would share my personal and financial information on FAFSA if it were not safe? While it is a possibility, very rarely is there any breach in security.
Each registered voter could be verified, issued a distinct registration and PIN number and given the opportunity to vote either from home, work or overseas. Voting could be held open 30 days from the actual election day. For those without Internet access such as the elderly and poor, computers can be made available at precincts where precinct workers can assist.
Electronic voting would eliminate voter fraud by giving each living person a unique number. Once you access your number and have cast your ballot, you are finished until the next election. Since dead people cannot access the Internet (at least not without help) we would cut a huge chunk of fraudulent voting right there. Electronic ballots could be made foolproof, with precise instructions if one makes an error. I’ve seen ballots spoiled because some voters mark multiple choices when they should have marked one, or crossed party lines in primaries when they can’t.
Tabulation would be instantaneous. No more waiting for the polls to close in Hawaii before you know the results. Results would be fluid, available for all to see.
Plus, just think of the trees we could save! Paper ballots, mail-in ballots, it would all be a thing of the past. Cash strapped communities would not have to expense postage and supplies.
I want to think my one vote is worth something. Obviously with the problems of the last election, I am not sure. When I see my paper ballot swallowed by a mechanical machine, is it really my voice? At least with online voting, each person would have one vote and no more.