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Melissa Seideman

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Is Internet Voting Inevitable?

How might the internet alter U.S. democratic institutions, including how Americans get information about and even vote for their public officials in general elections, has been the subject of much debate in recent months. Online voting is one of the most controversial aspects in this debate- a subject that began in March 2000 when the Arizona Democratic Party allowed for the first time remote Internet voting in its presidential primary race.

The prospect of being able to vote "in your pajamas," as its been described captured the imagination of political leaders, technology innovators, and voters around the world.

Is internet voting inevitable? Do you think people should be forced to assemble at polling places in order to cast their ballots? Is there benefits from entering the "public sphere?"

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  • Oct 27 2013: Some 200 plus years ago when American Representative Democracy was set up it was a revolutionary idea, but strangely did not involve a lot of popular voting - ie the President was still elected by Electors chosen by state legislatures, and Senators were likewise elected by state legislatures. House Representatives were elected by popular vote, but only propertied white men could vote. The point here is that everything starts somewhere, not unlike "training wheels on a child's bicycle", and progresses as society progresses.
    Judging on how far the internet has come in a mere 20 years of existence, I have no doubt that 200 years from now it will be a major factor in government. The Internet is the evolving "global brain", and it is inconceivable that government including internet voting will not be a part of it.
    Internet voting will start with low risk augmentations to the existing voting systems to get us on the learning curve.
    Once we get comfortable with the internet voting process, it will expand.
    As an example of a low risk entre' to internet voting governments could consider starting with "advisory" referendums. Also consider that in the US at any given time on any given issue numerous polling entities publicize the results of scientific polls statistically accurate to within +/- 3 percent. If there is overwhelming support shown in an "advisory" referendum, and polls corroborate this within their statistical margin of error, then the results of the "advisory" referendum have credibility. All that remains is a mechanism to hold representatives accountable to the voters rather than money'd special interests.
    At this point knee jerk libertarians scream tyranny of the majority, and I understand that. There are ways to minimize this in a well designed referendum and initiative system of government, and when done right this is preferable to tyranny by the big money dominated political elites. It is a big step toward political equality.
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      Oct 27 2013: Nicely presented Tom. Of course, by extrapolating your points a little further we should find that the politicians and the political parties they belong to disappearing and being replaced, possibly by people with real managerial abilities, namely employees that can be fired for incompetence and corruption unlike politicians. And there could well be different managers for different aspect of that governance, all with the responsibility of enacting the will of the people as decided by the online referendum system but with the power and authority for their governance remaining with the electorate.

      As indicated below in another response, I believe that municipal governance is the ideal place to begin the learning process you talk about. :)
    • Oct 29 2013: --Also consider that in the US at any given time on any given issue numerous polling entities publicize the results of scientific polls statistically accurate to within +/- 3 percent. If there is overwhelming support shown in an "advisory" referendum, and polls corroborate this within their statistical margin of error, then the results of the "advisory" referendum have credibility.--

      Actually with just that in mind. How can someone pull out a win when polls had them behind and it appeared they often could no fill a house party. I would trust a centralized vote more then trunks full of ballots any day.

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