Attitude Book Series by John R. Patrick

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Reginald Merilus is an Air Force veteran and a communication studies Major at The University of Tampa in Florida. He says, “Smartphone voting is coming, let’s embrace it”. I could not agree more. The key question is when? The current strategy of the Secretaries of State, who control how we vote, most politicians, and a cadre of academics, who I call anti-Internet voting activists, are all convinced it is not possible to have secure elections without paper. I could not disagree more. Reginald offers a simple analysis,

Election Day 2020 is less than a year away and imagine that you’re sitting on your couch working on a research paper and it hits you: You forgot to vote today. In the midst of your hectic schedule, you forgot to drive over to the federal building to cast your ballot. Does that make you a bad person? Of course not. More and more has been added to your plate.

Our everyday lives have been transferred completely onto our smartphones. When was the last time you used a bank teller versus the ATM? Today’s youth are digital natives and expect technology to improve most aspects of their lives. In our workplaces, the line between work and home has been completely blurred. We send emails after office hours. We work on group projects away from one another. We livestream class discussions using Periscope. If we can use smartphones for just about anything, why not for voting in presidential elections?

Election Day in the United States typically falls on a Tuesday and is not a federal holiday. Holding elections at the beginning of the work week limits the amount of voters who can make it to the polls. We have an obsession with work in this country that deters some people from asking for time off to vote. Being able to cast a secure vote over an app would drastically increase voter turnout. 

Reginald believes the problem holding us back from a more modern way to vote is fear. I agree and did research into this for my book, Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy. I have been predicting the move back to paper will introduce new kinds of fraud, like someone bribing postal carriers to pick up ballot envelopes from certain neighborhoods and put them in a dumpster. Our smartphones can authenticate we are who we say we are. Properly implemented, they can provide elections which are secure, private, convenient, easy, error free, and verifiable. Reginald wraps it up really well,

The 2018 midterm elections have been recognized for its high voter turnout. In 2018, 40% of voters used either voting by mail or early voting. Showing again that a large percentage of voters find it more convenient not to head to the polls. Not due to disinterest but more so due to inconvenience. Young voters just starting a career might be afraid to ask for time off from work to vote. Here at The University of Tampa, we have students from all over the country who quite frankly, probably never had to mail in anything. This doesn’t mean that they’re lazy. “Honestly, it seemed like a huge hassle between classes and fraternity stuff,” said Alia Strukel, a student at UT. “If it’s safe and done right, yeah why not.” 

I understand the fears of mobile voting, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” So I’m taking the positive approach believing that what allows us to progress in innovation is learning from our mistakes in the pursuit of perfection.  Hopefully, we decide to pursue smartphone voting and not acquiesce to fear. So on Election Day in the near future, instead of stressing over making it to your polling location, you’ll be able to cast a vote from the comfort of your couch. 

Congress should pay more attention to what students have to say. They are very much in touch with many of the world’s key issues. Among them is voter participation for a stronger democracy, and how people vote.

Source: Smartphone voting is coming, let’s embrace it – Est. 1933

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