Home Online Voting Comes Of Age (But Don’t Expect To Use It Anytime Soon)

Online Voting Comes Of Age (But Don’t Expect To Use It Anytime Soon)

Soldiers stationed overseas have been able to cast absentee votes in 13 Florida counties since December using a Web portal developed by Democracy Live using Microsoft’s Azure platform. Similar programs will be used for primaries in Virginia and California as a result of funding the three states received under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Which begs the question: How long before all of us can vote from the comfort of our laptop or smartphone?

I don’t buy the argument that online elections are less secure. As a former city hall and government reporter, I covered enough elections where dead people voted and the old “vote early and vote often” rules were still enforced by ward chairmen. Even now, when I show up at my polling place, I’m rarely asked for ID before I’m directed to the voting booth.

Darin Gibby, a patent attorney and partner at Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton and author of Why Has America Stopped Inventing?, said the technology used in online voting is similar to that used to process credit card transactions. Voters may receive a temporary password or be asked by a web portal for information that only they would know.

If the password “was stolen by a fraudster during voting, it wouldn’t matter as the password would expire the moment it is used,” Gibby said. “For those who want additional security, biometrics could be used – meaning that a fingerprint ID mechanism could be hooked into a USB port for further identification. Although this may seem costly, many scanners like this already come standard on some laptop models.”

In other words, online elections have the potential to decrease voter fraud. But changing the status quo, particularly in government, is always an uphill battle.

“Implementing a secure, cost-effective voting system is easily within the grasp of any state, even those with ailing budgets. Cost simply isn’t an issue, and neither is security,” Gibby said. “It all comes does to the simple fact that we have nobody in government positions who is willing to step forward and make the change.”

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