E-voting could have helped
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Nov 13, 2000
If Florida citizens had voted via the Internet in the 2000 presidential
elections, the counts would have been faster and more accurate, according
to several experts in the field.
But full-scale Internet voting is still several years away because issues
of security, privacy, voter authentication and coercion need to be addressed,
they said during a session called "The Future of Internet Voting" at the
National Civic League's annual conference Nov. 10.
"What this election will do is a give a real push to alternate ways
to secure mechanically safe and quick voting," said attorney Trevor Potter,
a former chairman and member of the Federal Election Commission and former
adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.
Potter said the problems in Florida's vote count for the presidential
election will accelerate the call for Internet voting "a lot faster than
probably we can cope with." Several Florida counties are in the midst of
a recount, which will decide the presidency between Texas Gov. George W.
Bush and Vice President Al Gore. Fewer than 1,000 votes separate the two
in the state.
In the Nov. 7 election, nonbinding Internet voting was conducted in
six states, including Arizona and California, and U.S. military personnel
in the country and overseas cast about 85 live votes. Voters and election
officials deemed the experiment a success.
Internet voting would eliminate problems such as voting twice and would
tabulate the counts quicker, said Mark Strama, vice president of governmental
affairs for the Garden City, N.Y.-based Election.com, a private company
that designs and manages elections via the Internet. Strama said Internet
voting could be phased in incrementally at the local level once security
and privacy concerns have been resolved.
He also said Internet voting could be conducted in polling places, but
citizens would rather vote from home. "With respect to remote voting, clearly
it is the desire of the American people," he said.
Richard Green, chairman and co-founder of Bellevue, Wash.-based VoteHere
Inc., another Internet voting company, said a step-by-step approach and
a full debate are needed before the system can move forward. He said he
also believed Internet voting would increase voter turnout, especially among
young people who have grown up with technology.
"We do agree apathy is the primary factor here," he said. "Voting from
home will make a difference in turnout."
Richard Schum of the Internet Policy Institute said Internet voting
would likely operate alongside conventional voting systems in the short
term before replacing the current systems. He added that Internet voting
will save money in the long term.