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Vote USA

If there is one statistic from my research for Election Attitude which should get your attention, it is 100 million people. That is how many could have voted in 2012 and 2016, but did not. In round numbers, in 2012, 30 million people were registered to vote but did not. Seventy million were eligible to register but did not. After a big push by both parties, 70 million people became registered, but did not vote. Thirty million were eligible to register but did not. The obvious question is why? At a lecture on the topic in Florida last winter, I posed the question. A gentleman in the back of the room raised his hand and yelled out, “Because they’re stupid!” In the follow-on discussion, some said they were glad the 100 million people did not vote because they would have voted for the wrong person. 

There is no shortage of opinion about why the 100 million people did not vote. In my research, I found studies and surveys were consistent about the reasons for the non-voting. Between 10 and 15 million people were apathetic or did not like either candidate. That leaves 85 to 90 million people who could have voted, but did not. I know a number of smart people who do not believe the real reason why the 85-90 million people did not vote: difficulty in getting to the polls.

There are many reasons and categories of difficulty. My mother and her buddies in the assisted living home were politically savvy, but did not know how to get an absentee ballot. Roughly 1.5 million people live in nursing homes and another million+ in more than 28,000 assisted living residences, Many millions more are receiving long term care at home. Many are disabled but cognitively able to vote. Three million people are overseas in the military and another three million work overseas. Over the years, they have learned their absentee ballots have a good chance of arriving in their home precinct after the election, or their vote lands in a pile of envelopes which don’t get opened unless there is a tie. Millions of millennials registered for 2016, but did not vote. Too difficult? Most students are registered where they live, not where they go to school. When I turned 18, I registered in NJ but went to college in PA. Explain the absentee voting process to a millennial, and they will say, “sure”. 

If you read Election Attitude, you will find there are many other reasons why people did not vote. Internet voting is the answer. It can lead to a stronger democracy. All we need is the technological and political will to make it happen. Researchers in Montana have rolled out a project called The Friend Vote. The idea is to make voting history available online. Not who you voted for, but whether you voted or not. People are being urged to check on their friends and neighbors and apply peer pressure to encourage voting. I would prefer a solution to make it easy to vote. An iPhone with TouchID, blockchain technology, and the Internet can make it easy, safe, private, secure, and verifiable. Lets get going.