Will Electronic Voting Improve or Hamper an Already Fragile Process?

Tablets, phones, and mobile devices are everywhere. We use them to read, take notes, and even place orders at restaurants. Their portability and ease-of-use have helped them become a vital part of everyday processes in the private sector. And while the public sector has traditionally been slower to implement new technologies, the convenience of mobile devices has spurred government agencies into readily adopting them. The corresponding increase in efficiency and transparency has even led to public agencies incorporating mobile technology into council, board, and committee meetings; making it easier to record minutes, disperse agendas, and share information. But could the same technology be used for voting? Many constituents are torn on the possibility of electronic voting, especially when it comes to concerns over security and fraud.

Proponents of digital voting like to highlight that technology has improved to such a degree that votes could be tallied via closed communication paths, which would prevent external threats like hackers or viruses from worming their way into the system and tampering with the results. Detractors, however, express fears over foreign made electronic voting machines and applications in particular; claiming they could be manufactured or designed with malicious intent and still influence elections, even within a closed communication system.

Whether tallying votes in a city council meeting or a national election, verifying a voter’s identity is just as important as digital security. A login portal with strict verification rules would be quicker than waiting in line and showing your ID at the polls. But ensuring council members are properly logged in before casting their vote at city hall could slow things down considerably when compared to a simple show of hands.

As with any technological innovation, the transition is fraught with pros and cons. However, it seems conceivable that if concerns over security and fraud guide the implementation of electronic voting, the results could be revolutionary. Imagine votes being tallied immediately and recorded with impeccable precision. Results could also be shared in real time, allowing invested constituents to stay engaged on their own terms. Moreover, an easier and more effective means of voting could potentially increase participation across the board, fostering both improved transparency and renewed trust in the democratic process.

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