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Numerous stories have appeared in the media about some aspect of our voting system. Politicians who did not win usually question the accuracy of the voting system or suggest they lost due to fraud. The President suggested there were millions of fraudulent votes in 2016. Although I do not believe there was any significant voter fraud, I view the announcement of a major investigation may contain a silver lining of the cloud. If the investigation is thorough as promised, the lining will reveal the extensive problems I discussed in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy.

All of us should be asking questions about our election system, but not because of hacking or voter fraud. The bigger issues have to do with disenfranchisement. Millions of disabled or overseas military and expatriate citizens find it very difficult to vote. Large numbers of ballots are sent by mail but do not get counted because the voter forgot to sign the envelope or signed it with a slightly different name than is in the voter registration database. Many voting machines did not work and some polling places had to revert to paper ballots counted by hand. Some voters waited in line for hours and finally gave up because they had to go back to work or take care of family members. Our system in America is antiquated. 

Mindy Moretti is the editor at Electionline.org, the nation’s only nonpartisan, non-advocacy clearinghouse for election reform news and information. In a weekly update, called “The Election That Was”, she took a state-by-state look at the 2016 General Election. She wrote, “The 2016 election cycle seemed to drag on forever and even today [November 17] there are still several million ballots left to be counted, results to be canvassed, audited and certified.”

Some strong opponents of Internet voting say we should leave the system the way it is. Keep the status quo. Only with paper can we have good elections, they say. Mindy’s report shows how the status quo works, describing state by state how things went. I have extracted the following list of some of the problems from her report. All of the problems did not happen in all of the states but, although no voter fraud was found, the number of problems encountered was astounding. Hopefully, an investigation into our election system will confirm these and other problems, and conclude it is time to modernize. A sampling of the problems includes:

 Long lines with wait times extending to two hours
 Broken voting machines and tabulators
 Voting machine storage of votes inadvertently wiped clean
 Lack of poll worker training
 Relocated polling places causing confusion to voters
 Missing or inaccurate voter registrations
 Same day registration problems caused delays
 College students could not vote, their registrations were not submitted
 A poll worker handed out pre-marked ballots
 Ballot shortages
 Ran out of Spanish-language ballots
 Delayed vote counting due to software problems
 Votes from a voting machine used for early voting were not counted
 Ballots had to be recounted due to errors
 Voting websites gave out incorrect information to voters
 Slow reporting due to software problems
 Voters with disabilities had to vote curbside due to inaccessible site
 Thousands of voters had to find new polling place due to flooding
 Large number of provisional ballots rejected
 Power failures at polling place
 Polling places opened late
 Appeals made to judges to extend hours due to polling place problems
 Poll workers had to be removed for name calling
 Voters fighting with each other
 Poll worker altercations
 Voters blocked from entering polling place
 Voters intimidated at polls
 Voter’s car stolen while voting
 Election judge assaulted
 Pens leaking ink
 Election judges arrived late, fell asleep, or had to be removed
 Problems with vote my mail

The problem is not voter fraud. It is a very large number of other things which result in the U.S. ranking #31 out of 34 developed countries in voter participation.  We can do much better. Lets hope the investigation discovers and validates the real problems and recognizes the risk for 2018 of having 15+ year old antiquated voting machines. lInternet voting can not only solve many of the problems, but can also make new methods of voting possible and strengthen our democracy.

A proof of concept for Internet voting just occurred with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Fan Vote. The 1,880,525 votes cast was the largest use to date of online voting using blockchain technology and the Internet.  This is the technology solution I recommended for voting in Election Attitude. People from all 50 states and the District of Columbia accessed the Rock Hall voting site from 100 different countries and cast their votes for their favorite rock artists. Sixty percent of the votes were cast from smartphones. See some video clips where I discuss voting problems and solutions here.