Overview Online voting is a remote
electronic voting system that allows voters to cast ballots from computers
and other devices connected to the Internet. Advantages of online voting
include increased voter participation, faster vote tabulation, and
election cost reductions. Online voting is advantageous to the voter
because it is quick and convenient. It also has the potential to make
voting easier for disabled, elderly, and geographically isolated people.
However, ongoing concerns over security, identification, and accuracy have
prevented online voting from becoming widely used.
General Information One of the main
concerns about online voting is voter fraud, which can consist of voting
multiple times, generating votes from non-existent voters, or buying
votes. Organizations such as www.blackboxvoting.org/
analyze the dangers and benefits of
Viruses, hackers, and the potential for
digital terrorism have added to the difficulties of implementing online
voting. Because of security concerns discovered by Security Peer Review
Group (SPRG), outlined in this paper,
military cancelled the SERVE program (Secure Electronic Registration and
Voting Experiment) that would have allowed military personnel and overseas
citizens to vote online in the 2004 presidential election. You can read
about this decision at www.govexec.com.
There is some concern that online voting
may change traditional voting patterns. It might disproportionately
attract people of higher income that can afford computers and associated
technology--a group of voters that tend to be conservative. Internet
voting could also attract a flood of young, technology-savvy voters--a
group that tends to support liberal causes. These new blocks of voters
could greatly influence the dynamics of politics. This
article from The New Atlantis contains an interesting
discussion of these problems.
Not everyone is skeptical of online voting.
The article "Vote
in Your Underwear" by Lindsey Arent at Wired News is another
report about the positive aspects of online voting.
Are you still interested in learning more
about the future of online voting? If so, take a look at the book Point,
Click, and Vote by R. Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall (Brookings
Institute Press 2004) at The
Case Studies Online voting has been
used in several elections with success. The Arizona Democratic Party,
seeking to boost participation in its party caucuses, conducted the
first-ever binding Internet vote in 2000. Read about this election and
some of the issues that surrounded online voting at www.forbes.com/2000/01/10/feat.html.
The Republican Party used Internet voting
to make it possible for its voters living in the most remote areas to cast
ballots in the 2000 Republican Party Straw Poll. Internet voting services
for the January 24, 2000 Alaskan Republican primary were provided by www.votehere.net/default.php.
More recently, Michigan used Internet
voting to increase voter turnout for its Democratic Party presidential
caucuses in 2004. Approximately 46,000 online votes were cast of the
nearly 163,000 total votes. For more information, read this CNET News.com
election was run by a recently formed private contractor from Garden city,
Michigan called Election