AlterNet, this week, published “2020 will be the year that online voting really takes hold in the U.S.— here are some of its biggest challenges“. Steven Rosenfeld did an excellent job of outlining the issues surrounding the lack of political and technological will to enfranchise the 100 million people who could not get to the polls for various reasons in 2012, 2016, and 2018.
Steven described three scenarios which I had written about in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy,
A. A perfect Internet system. All Windows 95 and other older systems have been eliminated. There are no hackers, no viruses, and no malfunctions. 100% of the population has a perfect device with flawless authentication and they are well versed in how to use them.
B. The voting system using blockchain technology, smart phones, and the Internet. The system would support finger or face identification for authentication. All voting data would be encrypted. Choices on the screen would be clear, expanded text sizes would be available, and audio provided for those who are hearing impaired. Links would provide details about a candidate or an issue being voted on. Not everyone would be required to use the Internet voting systems. For those without a computer or who don’t want to use a computer, they will be able to go to a local polling place or public library to use the computer there. For those who do not want to use one of these computers, they will be able to vote with a paper ballot. Voters using a smart phone or computer can vote multiple times with only their last vote counting. Votes remain private and voters will be able to confirm their vote was counted.
C. Today’s system which is full of problems such as the few listed above. Tens of millions of Americans who are eligible to vote, will not vote for a long list of reasons. Some will be sick on election day, be called away on assignment at the last minute by their employer, not be able to get off of work, intimidated by weather or ours-long lines, and many other reasons. In 2016, 100,000,000 people fell into these categories and were therefore disenfranchised.
Now, consider A, B, and C. The anti-Internet voting activists want to compare scenario B to scenario A, which we will never have. They refuse to compare it to scenario C which is the flawed system we have today which disenfranchises huge numbers of voters. I hope Steven is right when he says, “2020 will be the year that online voting really takes hold in the U.S”. There are encouraging signs, such as the West Virginia trial using Voatz blockchain technology. What we need now is a grass roots movement, state by state, where voting officials develop requests for proposals for Voatz and numerous other voting technology companies. Competition among tech companies is exactly what we need to bring out the potential for safe, secure, private, and verifiable Internet voting.