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I file my taxes every year, just like millions of other Americans, online -- electronically that is. It seems to work just fine; the system has its safeguards so as a filer I have confidence in the system. It always works for me, year after year, and I always get my refund quicker than if I simply mailed it in.

The question is, if our government can make it so easy for Americans to file their taxes electronically, online, safely and securely, then why can it not set up our voting system to do the same, and make it uniform across all states in all districts?

I realize there are still many Americans who do not have a computer or access to one. There is no reason we cannot still have a few voting booths in every district to meet that need. Those polls would surely be easier to get in and out of also, since an online voting system would allow most Americans to do it in the comfort of their homes or at their jobs without losing very little time out of their busy schedules.

This election cycle points out the need for an electronic voting system like no other. We have several states pushing Voter ID laws in a conservative partisan effort to keep some voters from the polls, namely -- likely Democratic voters. The Republican-controlled state governments, which are implementing the laws, are claiming they are passing the laws to solve a non-existing voter fraud problem.

Let us not forget the Florida debacle which George W. Bush won the 2000 election by just a few votes, thanks to voting problems. One was the famous "Butterfly Ballot" which inadvertently caused quite a few voters to accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. Then there were the chads (the small pieces of paper punched out by the stylus in the voting booth) which were the center of the political feud in the middle of the recount. Disputes over voters' intent started a firestorm. However, none of that mattered because the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and called the election in George W. Bush's favor.

Many Americans have no confidence in the voting system. Only a fraction of Americans vote, even for presidential elections. We as a democracy should be doing whatever we can to encourage more people to vote, not trying to discourage them instead with Voter ID laws and other legislation such as legislation to end early voting.

Many Americans work, sometimes at two jobs just to pay their bills. Election Day is no different from any other day for millions of workers who have to wait until they get off work, just so they can then stand in long lines where they then have to wait sometimes several hours to place their votes.

Perhaps for this election, we will have many voters show up at the polls, wait in long lines and then still will not be able to vote once they do get to the front of the line. If somebody for some reason failed to learn what kind of identification he or she would need and do not have it, then their wait will have been futile, this all because of quickly changed Voter ID laws passed in a haste to affect the next election.

The current voting system we have, is tilted against Democratic voter because of the difficulty voting is for many urban dwellers who are overwhelmingly Democrat. It is in crowded urban centers in which voters are forced to stand in long lines to exercise their right to vote. Rural districts -- which tend to be Republican -- are less populated, and many polls in those areas, have little if no waiting at all. An online voting system would fix this inequality with our voting system.

Perhaps Republicans lawmakers really do not want a secure and convenient method of voting for our nation. Maybe it is because if more Americans voted, they would be out of a job.

How would an electronic system work? I believe one of the methods the I.R.S. uses to secure our tax information online is through pin numbers. If all registered voters were required to have a pin number -- one generated by a computer or one created by the voter themselves -- that only they would know, it would be as easy, if not easier than filing our taxes online, I would think.

The political discourse in this country is at an all-time high. Our government can hardly get anything done because of the partisanship. Many Americans do not vote because they have no confidence in our government and in the voting system. There are other reasons they may not vote but one thing I do know, the easier it is for them to vote, the more likely they will vote.

This election is excessively close, but we have plenty of time to create an online, electronic voting system before midterm election in 2016, and surely before next presidential election. The only obstacle standing in our way is those who would rob us of our democracy and insist we must continue to stand in line, Identification in hand.

Online voting will move us into the future and into a more convenient way to vote, along with even a more accurate count. which will restore confidence once again in the voting system. It is time for our nation to step forward into the future, and insure our democracy stays strong for ages to come.

This is a republish from my website: Fidlerten Place

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, marigold, ichibon, NM Ray

    Rule the Day, Let not the Day Rule You.

    by fidlerten on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:33:38 AM PDT

  •  No concerns about hacking ? (3+ / 0-)

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:37:59 AM PDT

    •  If someone doesn't have photo ID (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, ROGNM, HudsonValleyMark

      because they don't drive or can't afford a car, how could they afford a computer and internet access?

      I don't like online voting.  Here's why.

      Last year, in Canada, there was an online vote for the leader of the progressive party in Canada (the NDP).

      While voting was going on, there was a DDoS attack which impacted the voting (people were unable to vote).

      The vote was conducted by a reputable company, but even the most reputable company cannot always cope with a DDos attack at the level that was used during the Canadian leadership election.

      I have my suspicions of who did it but it is basically unprovable as to who the culprits were.  Kind of suspicious that the powers that be in the party did not pursue who did, if you get my drift.

      There is also the issue of verifiability of the vote; where's the trail or if you will, a receipt, of how someone voted?

      Too nebulous, too prone to sabotage, too dicey.

      Washington State has a good system.  Mail in. No lines to vote.

  •  We have a paper ballot in New Mexico (4+ / 0-)

    Keep your hands off my Paper Ballot.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:43:36 AM PDT

  •  Read (5+ / 0-)

    this.  Then get back to me.

    I'm with ROGNM.  I'll keep my mail-in ballot here in Oregon, thanks.

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:46:42 AM PDT

    •  I want the option to vote for President (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pvlb

      and my Members of U.S. Congress on a separate,five part numbered ballot, using ink pens.  After I vote, I tear the tickets a part, and put the number one copy in the ballot box, the number 2 copy in the Democrat box,  the number 3 copy in the Republican box,  the number four copy in the write in box and I get to keep the number 5 for my record.

      Or something like that.  The vote for President and Congress members is too important to let either political party play games with at the state level.  The ballots that elect politicians to National level offices must be protected at a national level, using a fail safe system.  

      Democrats - We represent America!

      by phonegery on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:21:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like the sentiment, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    but I think the mail-in system we have in Oregon is much, much more secure, and open to more people than internet voting would be.
    I cannot understand why more states haven't adopted Oregon's voting method, it's easy, safe, convenient and secure. What more could anyone want? Unless your goal is to restrict voting, that is.

    •  Post Office Cut Backs (0+ / 0-)

      Congress isn't going to carry our failing postal service forever. USPS will have to cut back on deliveries and on personnel. Mail will be slower than ever. you still have to depend on government workers to hand count all the ballots accurately, and to keep track of all that paper.
      Counting is what computers do best.
      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Author of: Progressive Logic http://www.empathicscience.org/proglog.html

      by wjkellpro on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:38:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a computer scientist... (5+ / 0-)

    You don't want electronic voting.  Too much would happen behind closed doors.  Too much would happen "in the machine" where people can't see it.

    You file your taxes electronically because no one cares if your taxes get hacked.  No one has an incentive to hack your taxes... it won't make anyone money or give them power.

    You can vote your proxy for most companies electronically, because not enough people vote to make much of a difference... the Board of Directors can pretty much override any result they don't like.

    We are already seeing people using their legal authority (legislatures and secretaries of state) to implement laws to tilt the scales.  It would be far to easy to tip the scales with electronic voting.

    Think of it this way, someone (the US government and/or Israel maybe?) designed a virus to break a nuclear plant.  You really want to have 50 states develop their own code so that hackers can pick the weakest link and attack?  Or perhaps you like the idea of one code to rule them all (with a very few tech gurus minding the store).

    Paper ballots are clunky, but so inefficient that it would be difficult to hack.  I have not yet seen a proposal for computer voting that wouldn't be massively easier to tweak.  Remember, you only need to tip the scales a few points here and a few points there.

    •  I Was Just a Clipper Programmer and I Was Able (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      to put prank code into the workplace.

      3 lines are all I'd need to bias election tallying to create a permanent Republican majority with plausible looking modest margins. This is barely a grade school level of challenge.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 10:32:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Paper ballots lost, stolen, altered, ignored (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fidlerten

      We have been using paper ballots for nearly two centuries. What's happened? The whole history of corruption and incompetence in voting administration has been based on paper. Earlier this year, in Iowa, Romney was declared the winner. Two weeks later, after a recount and some more paper ballots came in, Santorum was declared the winner. Opps! But then the election officials said the some ballots were lost, and a new count would be conducted as soon as they came in. In San Francisco, a few years ago, boxes of paper ballots were found floating in the bay, and had never been counted.  Does anyone REALLY want to gone like this?
      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Author of: Progressive Logic http://www.empathicscience.org/proglog.html

      by wjkellpro on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:33:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  All of You Make Great Points... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wjkellpro

    Obviously, there are some major problems to work out.

    But we should not kid ourselves, the future is going to be electronic voting. I'm certain that there was conversations just like this one before electronic tax returns but they happened anyway and millions use them every year now.

    I'm not a computer scientist and I don't know if there's ever going to be a way to develop a secure system. But I do know that we already depend on computers for so much of our lives and we will continue to do so and more as time goes by.

    So yes, your arguments are all valid but modernization will overtake us all eventually and electronic voting will surely be a part of it.

    Rule the Day, Let not the Day Rule You.

    by fidlerten on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:14:14 AM PDT

    •  respectfully, I hate this argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      N in Seattle
      I'm not a computer scientist and I don't know if there's ever going to be a way to develop a secure system. But I do know that we already depend on computers for so much of our lives and we will continue to do so and more as time goes by.

      So yes, your arguments are all valid but modernization will overtake us all eventually and electronic voting will surely be a part of it.

      "Modernization"?!

      What? What even is the argument here? Is it foreordained that, say, we will "depend on computers" to determine whether and whom we marry? Or is it at least possible that we will say, "That is a terrible idea -- why would we ever do that?", and then not do it?

      If someone can think of a good way to implement online voting, let's scrutinize it, very closely. The argumentum ad Borg -- "resistance is futile: you will be modernized!" -- cuts no ice.

    •  Right on, bro! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fidlerten

      Substitute for the word 'modernization' the word 'convenience.' Convenience will be too hard to resist.
      But wait! There's more. As convenience brings in more voters, the more moderately minded voters will rise in influence. The extremists will become outnumbered. We'll finally get a more pragmatic, moderate, problem solving Congress. Internet voting can get America moving again!
      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Author of: Progressive Logic http://www.empathicscience.org/proglog.html

      by wjkellpro on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:23:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Horrible, horrible idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    People pay their taxes online, because if they don't file taxes, there are penalties involved.

    In addition to most all of the comments in this thread with which I agree, there is another major reason I think online voting is a crap idea.

    Voting is a citizen responsibility.  And like everything, responsibility has to be taught.

    As a parent, I nearly always brought my daughter with me to vote.  It was a special activity.  Going to the poll was a lesson in civic responsibility.

    Now, imagine it's the voting 'window of opportunity', I take my kid over to my desk, and say, 'Now, Mommy's going to vote', and she watches me click a few links, and log off the voting screen.  Kinda exactly like ordering something from Amazon.

    I think future adults need to learn that voting is a unique and important activity, and going to the polls is a very clear way of conveying that, which online voting would not be.

    Kathleen Sebelius 2016

    by pvlb on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:18:01 AM PDT

    •  That only works if there are enough voting places (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fidlerten

      so that you and your child can get in and get out efficiently. When I was young, my parents voted in a neighbor's garage. No problem with lines.  As it now is, in person voting is being manipulated so that the mechanics of doing it are more involved and the lines get longer and longer, so as to discourage voters from waiting. It was not so hard to find garages to vote in where I was when I was young, and is probably not harder now, but the Election authorities especially in big cities have trouble doing that.

  •  No it won't. Sorry. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HudsonValleyMark, Mr Robert

    The core issues are two fold:

    1.   No chain of trust between voter intent and the count.  Electronic devices only record what they think the vote was, or what they want the vote to be, and there is no way for the voters to know which it is, or if it's wrong.

    2.  Enabling technology is required to see the votes, meaning we all vote by proxy.  That means no trust is possible, as the proxy doesn't work with enduring records.

    We can't put electrons in a court room, nor can we see when they are changed.

    Personally identifiable systems with logs and audits can remedy this, but we then have all our votes on record.

    This is a people issue, not a technology issue.  We must start asserting our right to vote, win elections and keep this on the agenda until we push back on the shit they are doing.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:45:00 AM PDT

    •  How it works (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fidlerten

      Voter has PIN and user name. Logs on to secure county website. One module checks registration (previously tied to DMV or other secure ID) Second module presents ballot. Voter votes and clicks send. Name and vote are never connected. Module logs can be used as audit sources. Election officials contract with service provider. They want to stay in business, and to grow their business, so they aren't going to do anything sneaky. Besides messing with voting equipment is a crime w/ lawyer's fees, fines, and prison time. Anyone dumb enough to risk this for a few votes in one election is dumb enough to get caught. The FBI has caught lots of would-be cyber criminals.
      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Author of: Progressive Logic http://www.empathicscience.org/proglog.html

      by wjkellpro on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:15:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah? (0+ / 0-)

        How does the voter know the record of their vote both matches their intent and is used for the tally?

        Answer, they don't.  Can't actually.  And yes, I can prove that absolutely in the case of non-personally identifiable votes.  In the case of personally identifiable votes, audit logs can get us very close, but at considerable cost.

        You know, the truth is all this stuff is a solution looking for a problem.

        We don't need Internet voting.  We don't even need electronic voting.

        What we do need is simple paper voting, well distributed, transparent, audit-able, and available without a bunch of shitty rules.

        Everybody keeps framing this as a cost issue, or a time issue, or a security issue, etc...

        The only real issue is the election process has been pried away from the people, wrapped up in contracts, services and secrets.  That's the issue.  And it's been the issue since we started up with the Voter News Service and all the secrecy and drama surrounding the reporting of the vote.

        Couple that with expectations of near instant results and it's just a mess.

        Truth is, a robust physical media process can be distributed and scaled to any population without a significant impact on the cost of it, or the time of it.

        Frankly, moving to vote by mail would cost less, be more robust, auditable, etc... than any Internet voting system would.  It's easy, cheap, voting actually happens over a week or two, all voters can be sorted out, registered, etc...

        Turnout on VBM is significantly higher than voting at polls where there are challengers, cagers, and choke points all over the place used to intimidate, bias and disturb the voting.

        VBM suffers from almost none of that, and it works great.  It's been used here in Oregon for a long time now, and we've had almost no issues.  The little issues we have had, such as a close election, or some counting snafu all could fall back to the actual vote records cast on physical media, discussed in a court room, if needed, and counted individually where needed, by the people, and their peers in the public eye where the election should always be.

        The other major issue we've got is failing to properly involve the people in their civics.  At any time, for any election, we have the elderly, home makers, students and others perfectly capable of doing their part to make an election happen.

        Before we fire off a service, we really should just use the people and time tested means and methods to perform fair and trustworthy elections.

        ***Be Excellent To One Another***
        IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

        by potatohead on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:07:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  BTW: Your proof problem. (0+ / 0-)

          Here's the deal with electronic votes cast:

          When a voter casts their vote on traditional media, the chain of trust between their vote intent and the record of the vote used for the tally is complete.  They can see the record, unaided, and they know their intent.  When that vote is cast, they know absolutely that it's the vote they intended.

          With electronic voting of any kind, that chain of trust isn't complete.  The voter intent and the actual record of the vote cannot both be compared by the voter to verify the vote record properly reflects their intent.

          That's the crux of it.  There is no getting around this with electronics, because electronic states cannot be observed by a voter without using enabling technology.

          What this does is force the voter to trust the enabling technology.  Physical vote records that can be read unaided by the human eye are completely verifiable by the voter.  Electrons do not share that property.

          Worse, the machine only records what it thinks the voter intent was.  It must parse some action, and that can be corrupted and is prone to error.  

          Worse than that?  It's not even possible for a few humans to assure the voter that the intent recorded matches their vote as everybody must work through and are forced to trust a delicate record that has no enduring properties.

          When physical media is changed or marked, the voter can compare their intent to the mark directly.  They know the vote is correct.  If that change or mark is altered, the evidence of change is very compelling.  We don't live in a perfect world, and we generally do not possess technology that can change that expression of intent without leaving evidence of said change behind.

          Electronic states just change!  Ever hold a mental count?  What happens when you decide to change that count?  It's just changed, isn't it?  That's how electronic states are.  They don't have a physical manifestation of state that can be examined.  They just are, and that's by design as we use electronic state machines to compute abstract ideas and data and they do so very efficiently because they are designed for this property of change to be exploited.  That's a good thing, just not for votes.

          When we hold an election, our goal is to record the intent of all the voters so that we can take that intent and develop a tally to determine the result of the election.  Since no voter using an electronic system can actually verify that their vote, in fact, was contributing to the tally, we don't have a verifiable and by definition, trustworthy process.

          That's the proof problem in a nutshell.  Only a complete fool would trust such a system given the issues and money at stake.

          Now, you've put some silly market idea out there.  That's got issues too.

          For starters, when do we vote for profit?  Doing business handling votes is corrupt.  It's corrupt because processing votes for profit implies some advantage over simply working together to understand what we have voted for or against.  What advantage does such a system have, particularly given it's not possible for any voter to actually know their vote was both recorded in line with their intent and use for the tally?

          Predetermined results.  That's the "for profit" part.  

          There is another issue here too, and that is transparency.  A trustworthy election is transparent.  That means all the voters and those election officials running the election need to be able to understand the process completely, and be able to follow a vote from the moment it's cast through to it's contribution to the tally.

          That's not possible with electronic systems, and the first thing they will cite is this extreme need for security, meaning not only can we not see the votes cast go to the tally, but we can't even audit the software that is handling those untrusted voter intent records, known as votes cast!

          When we push a button, or touch a screen, that software could do anything.  It might actually record the right vote, or it might not.

          Know what we do know about that software?  It does precisely what the people who wrote it designed it to do.  Why the secrecy then?  Said software should be open, peer reviewed, non-profit software developed in ways that a voter can see, verify, and read the source code to.

          Ordinary people won't understand that code, but a whole lot of other people will.

          Say we do that.  Great!  Now we've got peer reviewed software.  Is that the software actually running?  That's difficult to determine as well, though using an Internet model does help with this problem as a cloud service could centralize the software problem.

          It's better than a bunch of voting machines sprinkled all over the place, hacked this way and that, running god knows what, but we fall back on the fact that a voter simply has no way to know that their vote is accurate, was not changed or lost and contributed to the tally.

          Say there is a problem!  There are always problems.  Voter intent is a fickle thing.  Voters express it, and it's done.  If they express it onto media, we've got that expression, and they know that expression is accurate, trustworthy.

          If there is a problem with a system like this, we don't have those expressions!  Further, we can't examine them without the enabling technology, meaning a problem then renders the whole election moot!  Untrustworthy as we performed an election without actually keeping an enduring record of the votes cast!  

          So do we just vote again and again, until there are no problems?  How does that differ from voting again and again to get a specific result?

          I could go on and on, but the core flaw in all of these systems boils down to the voter being completely unable to know whether or not their intent was recorded properly, nor whether or not it contributed to the tally.

          From there it just gets more ugly the more we look at it.

          I am frankly stunned that people continue down this path when we've got means and methods that insure solid elections, reasonably quick results and records that can be taken to court and that endure should problems arise.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:32:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Internet voting is coming to the USA! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fidlerten

    Only 100 years ago people were railing against that noisy, smelly, dangerously fast horseless carriage. Fidlerten is right. Internet voting is coming to the USA! It’s been done w/o security breaches all over the world. France and Mexico City did it for their overseas voters just this summer. Norway, Switzerland, Australia (NSW), Estonia, several cites in Canada, India, and some places in the US, like West Virginia and Arizona – for their overseas military voters. The DOS attack in Canada only caused a slow down of the system, until it was beefed up in a couple of hours. No votes were lost or changed, because there was no penetration of the system. It was like getting a busy signal on the phone. There was a hack in Washington DC, but that was not in a real vote. Just a first trial of an experimental system. We have around 3000 voting jurisdictions in the US. Each one can start using Internet voting any time the people demand it. The security technology has been proven. Its up to the People now.
    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Author of: Progressive Logic http://www.empathicscience.org/proglog.html

    by wjkellpro on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:05:21 PM PDT

  •  Reads like spam to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    N in Seattle

    Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

    by Mr Robert on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:29:48 PM PDT

  •  If You Have a Printer... (0+ / 0-)

    then you have a paper ballot.

    Voters can be instructed to print their ballots in case of a recount. If there is a recount, then you can always have all voters mail in their ballots.

    Those who argue to keep the old system in place, argue for an outdated system that cannot keep up with the population needs. As I said in the article, the current system treats those who live in urban areas differently than it treats rural areas.

    I am certain that many likely voters who have in the past experienced standing in long lines for hours to vote, and doesn't vote because of that wait, will vote when they can vote from the convenience of their homes.

    I don't think the question really is; will we move to electronic voting but when?

    Rule the Day, Let not the Day Rule You.

    by fidlerten on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:00:03 PM PDT

    •  Paper Ballots Invite Corruption and Coercion (0+ / 0-)

      If voters could print out their online voted ballot, then they could prove to a vote buyer how they voted. Also, suppose a mean boss tells his sewing machine operators to show they voted for His Candidate, or look for another job? Suppose a professor did likewise, or a mean husband/wife/dad/mom etc. Paperless is greener, and this stuff can't happen.

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author: Internet Voting Now!

      William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. @wjkno1 Author of: Internet Voting Now!

      by wjkellpro on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:35:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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