Senator Wyden of Oregon has proposed a national vote by mail system under a partnership with the United States Postal System. The proposal would eliminate the current electronic voting machines. I respect the goal of reducing the high cost of maintaining the old fashioned approach of paper ballots and scanners, but I think we can do much better. Internet voting, as described in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy, is a much better way.
Policy makers who are afraid of the Internet and want to maintain the status quo. Paper forever. I understand the concerns about the Internet, but they can be solved. Paper voting has its own issues. A friend of mine lives in a condominium building. For the 2016 election, his wife received a notice to vote by mail, but he did not. He visited the election precinct where he would normally vote in person to ask why he had not received the vote by mail invitation. An election worker checked online and reported that he had already voted. He informed the election worker he had not voted. They then showed him a scan of his ballot envelope. It was not his signature, but he recognized the name. It was another person in the condominium. This is not a case of fraud. The person who cast my friend’s ballot did not realize the ballot was not his. The postal delivery person put the envelope in the wrong mailbox.
The Internet is not perfect, but it is more dependable and accurate than a paper based system. It is also more convenient and can enfranchise millions of people who currently cannot vote because it is not convenient for them. In some cases voting the old way is just not possible.
The Western Australian Electoral Commission just announced a significant move to internet voting for people who have insufficient literacy skills, are sight impaired, or are otherwise incapacitated. The Australian iVote system has been used since 2011 in all state elections. Once registered, voters get an 8 digit iVote number and a 6 digit PIN. They use this to log into the system to vote and once having voted online, can verify their vote through an automated telephone system.