Gartner Group: Arizona Internet vote paved way
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Apr 12, 2000
Now that Arizona has completed the first binding election using the Internet
to cast ballots, governments at all levels should work to ensure that this
year's presidential election is the last one that will rely solely on paper
and "snail mail," according to analysts at the Gartner Group.
Despite the fact that Vice President Al Gore had already wrapped up
his party's nomination by the time the Arizona Democratic primary took place,
nearly three times as many people voted this year than did in 1996.
Despite some legal and technical glitches, that jump in turnout is largely
due to Internet voting, said Christopher Baum, vice president and research
area director for the Stamford, Conn.-based advising firm.
"The [online] election had numerous problems, including overloaded servers
and help desks, and less than one-third of online voters read the directions.
But you have to look at the results," Baum said in a Tuesday teleconference
from Gartner's Spring Symposium in San Diego.
In 1996, 12,800 people voted in the election, but on the first day of
Internet voting this year, more than 13,000 people voted online, Baum said.
"At the end of the four days of Internet voting, just under 36,000 people
had voted online, which is nearly three times the total [number] in 1996,"
Although the results were promising, there are still problems that need
to be worked out. People are still hesitant to use computers and might not
have access to the necessary equipment, Baum said.
Evidence of voter hesitancy to use the new technology occurred on election
day itself in Arizona, when only 4,000 of the 18,000 people who went to polling
locations chose to use online voting.
"Technology problems do occur — they are there and they are serious — and may have affected the outcome [of the election]," Baum said. "But
they can be overcome, as can the digital divide. The biggest challenges
are political, not technological."