The Village

  • Online Voting: The Wave of the Future?

    Nov 10, 2014. Written by jhockett

    It was a crisp fall day in 2008, when students all over the University of Memphis campus boarded buses heading to local voting facilities to cast their votes in a landmark, meritorious presidential election.  Just 50 years earlier in 1968, students known as the Memphis State Eight, rallied and protested for voting rights on the very same campus. In 2014, students are still carpooling and bussing it to local voting facilities to have their voices echoed into a “voting realm” but the reality is, many do not feel connected to or even completely understand how elections work. It seems as if young people feel more connected to the number of likes they obtain on a social media post or the data plans of their cell phones, rather than the seeking to understand the complexity of the voting process.

    I remember my first time voting, I was so confused.  Some of the candidates and issues present on the ballot were unfamiliar to me.  Therefore, I had the mentality of digression.  I simply thought, well as long as the presidential seat is who I voted for then, “oh well” for the rest.  So this year’s midterm election made me think a little deeper in terms of how to make the process more suitable. I personally believe it may be time to look into making online voting options available to allow us to exercise the right to vote in a way that is convenient.

    In the digital age we live in, convenience is everything.  One day, our descendants could potentially read about our elaborate changes in their history books just as we have of our ancestor’s leading movements such as the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement and many more ages of innovation.  We’ve made broad measures in terms of making votes electronic in several states and conducting online voter registration, but what if we could vote online?  Would more people participate in the process?  It is my proposition that if a visual site were set up where I could learn about candidate’s a little more and vote online, then voting would be more individually plausible and rewarding.  It is my assumption that many young voters are persuaded by the loud chanters outside of voting facilities or they vote for a position because they merely don’t have the information or time in advance to conduct research on every candidate and issue.  That young person, much like I was when I voted for the first time, feels little to no connection to the actual act of voting.  In some ways, it seems more of an obligation rather than a chance to be a part of life changing decisions.

    A few problems will be proposed from online voting, such as security and computer glitches as we would inherently be investing in the insecure medium of the internet.  However, I believe that it is worth a great deal to allow all individuals of this great nation a chance to vote without obstruction.  Election reform is in fact needed now.  If online voting was to occur, an audit trail would also be available for investigation of any fraud that could potentially occur.  This would make recounts and individual voting records more accessible, etc.  According to NBC.com, Internet voting can satisfy a plethora of criteria:  data encryption, digital signatures and advance cryptographic protocols.  This could potentially make our voting process more genuine and digitally safe.

    Voting should never be inaccessible or propose any difficulties. Many will argue that the elderly don’t have internet access and that it defies provisions of the Voting Rights Act, but what about those who are disenfranchised or the younger people who are disconnected from the processes of voting. Let’s get the conversation going about how online voting can benefit voters in the 21st century.  Take a quick poll on online voting here and tell me your thoughts.