Online voting serves youth, poll finds

In the midst of a presidential campaign season focused on Social Security

and prescription drug benefits for the elderly, an online survey suggests

that electronic voting would produce the greatest increase in election participation

among 24- to 35-year-olds.

The finding raises intriguing questions about how an increase in voting

by younger citizens might change the complexion of an election, said Daniel

Greenberg, vice president of marketing at Active Research Inc.

A mid-October survey by the California-based research company found

that 74 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds polled said they would vote in more

elections if they could do so via computers. At present, people in that

age range are among the least likely to vote, Greenberg said.

Active Research surveyed 539 individuals online and found that:

* 82 percent would vote online if given the opportunity.

* 63 percent would vote in more elections if they could vote online.

* 74 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds would vote in more elections.

* 38 percent of those 55 and older would vote in more elections.

* 15 percent said they preferred to vote offline.

* 2 percent said they wouldn't vote.

The poll was conducted among computer users who were in the process

of electronic shopping, Greenberg said. Thus those polled were not a representative

sample of the voting population.

The fact that they were shopping online meant that the poll participants

were probably comfortable with the Internet and e-commerce and thus were

probably more inclined to support online voting, Greenberg said.

"But they are the indicators of the future," he said. Their numbers

are growing rapidly.

Active Research, which chiefly analyzes consumers — online and offline — has found that shoppers turn to the Internet mainly to save time. And

convenience is the key factor behind support for online voting, he said.

The Active Research poll did not attempt to analyze how increasing the

number of younger, technology-savvy voters might change the content of campaigns

or the outcome of elections, he said.

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