Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Reasons to be PRO Internet Voting for All US Elections

Here are 3 reasons why I advocate Internet voting in all US elections –

1). Internet voting can take power away from Big Money, and bring more rationality into the campaign-election process.

IMAGINE: You are watching candidates debate online or on TV. After each debate you log on to your state’s secure voting website, using your own PC, cell phone, iPad, or other electronic device. Your voter registration is checked, and then the ballot appears. You mark it, and send it w/ a click.

This will neutralize the power of Big Money! How? Most of the Big Money spent on political campaigns is meant to impress, persuade, and even manipulate the decision of the voters. The theory is that if a voter repeatedly hears a lot of positive information about one candidate’s name, and negative information about the names of others, the voter’s mind will be conditioned to vote for the name with good stuff connected to it when he or she goes in to the voting booth.

But with secure Internet voting, there is NO TIME for campaign advertising to try to persuade or trick you, or to condition your mind like a pigeon trained to peck on the blue button rather than the red one. You watch the debate. You form your own opinion of what you have just seen, and you vote strictly on that basis.

All the advertising before or after the debate will be useless, because everyone will vote while their own views are fresh in their minds. Big Money will become irrelevant. Elected officials will owe their job only to the voters.

What could be more orderly and conducive to reason and deliberation, than to watch debaters trying their best to perform at a presidential level, and then to have each voter vote his or her considered assessment of each debater’s efforts?

2). The US requires TWO votes for a presidential election: one in the primary, and another in the general election. But Americans are a practical people. Many regard the first vote as too inconvenient, its not worth the effort of driving to the polls, looking for parking, then waiting in line; so only about 25% vote in primaries. The ones who do vote in primaries are highly motivated by partisan feelings. Hence, they elect extreme partisans to office. Now we have gridlock in the US Congress because the partisans refuse to cooperate with each other.

This need not be. Convenience is empowerment. Make voting more convenient, and more people will vote in both the primaries and general election. When more people vote, more moderate votes by ordinary Americans will be cast. When more moderate votes are cast, the partisan gridlock in Washington will diminish. The moderate voters will elect problem-solving officials. Because Congressional elections can be done online, special interests will have less power. Internet voting can get this country going again!

3). Voter ID: Currently, some states are requiring voters to show IDs. This is a problem for inner city folks who don’t drive cars, and thus don’t have a driver’s license. Old folks and poor folks are also affected. But w/ Internet voting, voters don’t have to show anybody an ID. When they log on to the secure website, their registration is checked. It’s the same convenient process for everyone. (Registration is moving to biometrics, and it will all be biometrics soon.)

Internet voting can greatly enhance democracy in the USA! All that is necessary to make this happen is a letter to your local election official asking that an Internet voting system be implemented. They will be happy to hear from their constituents, because they already know that online voting is a far less costly and troublesome process than the polling place and paper-based system currently in use.

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.

Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund
Email: Internetvoting@gmail.com
Blog: http://tinyurl.com/IV4All
Twitter: wjkno1
Author of Internet Voting Now!
Kindle edition: http://tinyurl.com/IntV-Now
In paper: http://tinyurl.com/IVNow2011


PS
Over 40 cities in Canada have used Internet voting - all w/o having even one vote changed. Sure, there have been attempted hacks, but none succeed. Why? Because professionals know how to prepare for the attacks, and fend them off. Elections Canada wants Internet voting for all national elections. Also, numerous other Internet voting trials around the world, have all worked well. These include Estonia, Norway, Switzerland, France, Mexico City, Australia (New South Wales), and Gujarat, India. West Virginia did it for their overseas military in 2010, and everyone loved it.  Search this blog for lots of info on Internet voting security.




7 comments:

Andy W said...

It is hard to respond respectfully considering your credentials. My shock is that a man of your education level will overlook the very real and personal losses associated with any full voting system that does not guarantee everyone's right to privacy and free choice and, in that same vein, guarantee my vote not be diminished by persons or even corporations who have very real authority or control over others.

Women beware. Think ahead, please. How many married women in America would say they would vote freely in every office on the ballot if their spouse was in the voting booth with them.

Internet voting takes away my right, if I am under authority of another (certain employees, elderly parents, teenage or twenty something kids living at home or in school on parent's dime, spouses) to disagree with that authority quietly and vote without pressure.

And what about the work crew of the thousands of labor intensive jobs whose potentially politically active boss, under the guise of promoting and affording time to vote for his employees, invites the crew into his office one morning before work to vote on his computer. With the boss looking on, are those more apathetic workers voting freely or will they likely vote for the candidates whose posters and yard signs dot the employers landscape.

And in all theses cases, my one vote is diluted!

Please people, perk up when you hear people promote internet voting as the solution. It is the beginning of the end of democracy.

The writer to which I'm responding states that in internet voting trials, no vote had every been lost, but he cannot accurately make that claim for two reasons.

First, if lack of privacy and protection keeps me from freely choosing, then my vote was lost. In fact, worse, my vote counted as an additional vote for an alternate candidate.

Second, he simply cannot prove such a claim technically. With the absence of a physical system for tracking voter check-in, a lost vote is just that, lost. You don't know it's lost because the very definition of the word explains the status. It's lost, gone, no record.

Let's get a real dialogue going on the social impact of such a proposed fundamental change to our system of democracy and lets ask ourselves how far we must go to get people to vote. We now have nearly no load absentee voting throughout the U S as well as in person early and remote voting, to aid people who cannot or simply don't want to vote on election day. Liberal poll opening and closing times aid the rest of us. One has to ask who is left that cannot gain access through one of these avenues? I'm sure some will propose an answer to that, but I ask at what cost to the value of everyone's vote.

I typed this wholly in my cell phone, so please excuse some typos, auto corrects, and a limited viewing window making proofing nearly impossible.

wjk said...

Hey Andy W – thanks for expressing your worries about the possibilities for voter coercion and loss of privacy with Internet voting. I notice that your comments are FEAR based, and not FACT based. You seem to fear the loss of democracy with Internet voting; but, I don’t see the threats you mention as being much more than imaginary.

The same threats exist in vote by mail systems. All of Washington state, and much of Oregon and California, have vote by mail. While on occasion a domineering wife might be able to coerce her husband, children, elderly in-laws, etc to vote one way or another, I haven’t heard about any convictions for this crime in any of these states. I don’t think your paternalism is justified. Customs in the US lean strongly towards respecting the privacy of the vote. The absence of proven cases shows that this custom is faithfully adhered to.

Also, the penalties for interfering in a person’s freedom to vote are onerous. What employer wants to risk prison time for coercing a few votes? He couldn’t change an election, and he most surely couldn’t get away with the crime. Somebody would alert the authorities, like the FBI. The bad boss would be arrested, have to hire a costly lawyer, pay a fine, would be sued by the employees for mental distress and violating civil rights, might lose his factory or business in the process, be publicly shamed, maybe divorced; and don’t forget, many prisoners have reported that prison can be a real pain in the butt! That's not worth a few votes.

Compare Internet voting to paper based voting. In which system are votes more likely to be lost? Which system is more likely to produce the more accurate count? Of course, if a system is poorly constructed, then there could be problems. That is what happened in the DC hack (see more in this blog). But the examples I gave above were of professionally built systems, which worked as they are supposed to work.

I know there is a lot of fear about what MIGHT go wrong, especially in our contemporary risk averse USA. New technology always produces worries. But the benefits are so very great for our democracy, that a little risk is worth it. Good thing our Founders weren’t so risk averse – or none of us would be here!

Mike said...

Here's a fact to point out why we NEED Secure Internet Voting. New Jersey has just told citizens who got displaced from Sandy that they can EMAIL or FAX their votes!!! There is literally no way to provide privacy through those methods. But I understand the need to let the displaced vote and if we had Internet voting in place, it would be easily accomplished.

Don't forget, a system of standards would have to be applied. Like you would have to register to vote online like you have to if you're going to send an absentee ballot. So it wouldn't be for everyone - especially not the scared or easily coerced. Plus, if someone was coerced into voting one way, they'd be able to change their vote later and report the person who coerced them.

Internet Voting is a far better option than people not voting at all. Because let's face it. Our current system is inconvenient, flawed and if you think people can't hack the vote, you're way off.

wjk said...

NYC is allowing vote by affidavit for folks whose polling place got trashed by Sandy. Nice that they can vote, but no privacy there.

InfoCoder said...

Internet voting is NEVER "secure" from the eyes of a system administrator. The only truly "secure" voting system --take if from a software engineer with 30 years of experience-- is PAPER ballots.

After 2000, Miami Dade's commissioner rushed to put in electronic voting machines, my town voted using them first. He was there and I shared with him the dangers, and now, thank God we have PAPER ballots, the only way.

Touch machines are not only hackable, they have been hacked numerous times, look it up, and the most "easily securable" is such a myth.

Chris Cates said...

Three Reasons To be AGAINST Internet Voting for ALL Elections

1) Internet voting can take power away from big money...

This is completely not true. Almost all electronic voting systems are built by private FOR-PROFIT companies. These companies can rig the elections to favor the candidate with the biggest pocketbook and no one would ever know it, all while claiming e-voting is secure. Since there is no paper trail to independently verify the election, it is impossible to trust the results of the election.

Foreign governments or corporations with their own motives and political interests could write viruses or fund hackers to alter the election results in their own interests. The world has already seen super-viruses which are growing in their sophistication and are taking years to detect. Cyber threats are a growing trend that is being reported from intelligence agencies around the world.

2) The US requires two votes for a presidential election...

Convenience is NOT empowerment especially when you cannot trust the democratic election process. Accountability, verification and transparency are all thrown out the window when an election is conducted using an electronic voting system. It is true in many countries people must wait in lines to cast their ballot but adding more polling stations and/or election days is one way to solve this problem without introducing an electronic system that is vulnerable to numerous security risks.

3) Voter ID...

No photo ID and biometric scanners? Not only is this difficult to logistically implement given the sheer number of computers which do not have biometric readers, this technology has already proven to be easily hacked. Your fingerprint can be stolen just as easily as your wallet. In fact, maybe that's where the thieves will get your fingerprint from. And how much is it going to cost tax payers to set up all the governmental processes and systems to track the biometrically scanned fingerprint of every single citizen in the country? Wouldn't it be cheaper to set up extra polling stations every few years?

Chris Cates
Computer Expert, activist, speaker
Website: http://www.countingthevote.ca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Counting-The-Vote/327385727376942
Twitter: countingthevote

PS
Numerous cities and countries around the world have adopted e-voting systems but numerous more have rejected electronic voting. Countries like Germany, Finland, and Ireland have not only rejected internet voting, but also moved away from electronic voting entirely and RETURNED to paper ballot voting. Why? Because it's safe, secure, can be independently audited, and is a transparent form of voting!

Computer experts around the world are speaking publicly AGAINST the use of electronic voting. Not only because of the security concerns, but also because it is a technology that cannot be trusted to conduct an open and transparent election. Some experts have hacked both electronic voting machines and internet voting systems! Who would you put your trust in? Experts with PhDs in computer science, computer security, networking, and encryption? Or a biased PhD in political science?

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
I like your ideas about getting the money out of politics. The idea of Internet voting is interesting. I don't like it for these reasons. I think it all is too hack able. I totally believe Karl Rove had the fix in for the 2012 election by hacking into the OH election had Annonymous not intervened. I'd rather see a real paper trail. The other concern that I have is that many of the over 60 crowd have not moved on to embrace computers let alone other poor people who don't own a computer or have access to a computer. I meet many 60-70 year olds that want nothing to do with computers. I have a 65 year old sister that doesn't even use an ATM. unfortunately I don't think she is the only one! Some people refuse to even try to learn how to use a computer. I realize voting machines are hack able as well but think less so than an Internet site. Money must be taken out of politics but doubt I will to see it happen. Would love to see Citizens United overturned. Our SC made a huge mistake in approving Citizens United!
Thank you for your blog post! Very interesting ideas!
Sincerely,
Connie L