Internet: Regulation Student Papers: Hiestand - California Western
Internet: Regulation Student Papers: Hiestand

INTERNET VOTING IN PUBLIC ELECTIONS

By Chauncey Hiestand

INTRODUCTION

     America holds itself as the greatest democracy in the world. It is time for our government to overhaul and upgrade the current voting system that enables that democracy.[1] Our election equipment is falling apart and there is an utter lack of uniformity in our nation’s ballot design.[2] After the fiasco in the Florida Presidential elections, the public, by more than a 4-to-1 margin, is in favor of some type of renovation.[3] Even the U.S. Supreme Court was quoted as saying, ”After the current counting (of Florida ballots), it is likely legislative bodies nation-wide will examine ways to improve the mechanics and machinery for voting.”[4]

     Forget updating old machines. America needs to think outside the box and develop a national standard of voting that insures the greatest reliability and allows the highest voter turn out. The future: Remote Internet Voting. Unlike voting from a regional polling place connected to the Internet and controlled by the government, remote Internet voting would allow any registered voter to cast a vote through a web page using a computer in the comfort of one’s own home.[5] However, security becomes more of a concern when the government does not directly control the voting process.[6]

     PROCEDURES REGARDING INTERNET VOTING

There are quite a few theories on what procedures may be utilized to develop remote Internet voting. However, there are some basic steps that would be necessary to ensure reliability and security. First, a secured nationally standardized web site where voters may log in.[7] Second, some form of registration and authentication through a personal identification code for each registered voter.[8] Third, a simple set of directions and displays that assist the voter through the voting process.[9] Lastly, a type of confirmation to the voter that the process was completed successfully.[10] Present technology such as touch screens and voice activation may be drawn upon to simplify the process.

     PUBLIC DISTRUST REGARDING THE INTERNET

This may prove easier said than done. Along with major security issues that must be addressed, there is also a growing public distrust for the Internet. Most believe the Internet would add to existing problems.[11] Four out of five say traditional voting booths ensure the best privacy, and more than two-thirds believe the Internet is more prone to fraud than a voting booth.[12] Although this general distrust is not without its merit, people have often been weary of change. The greatest concerns for an effective remote Internet voting system are the adequacy of technology for a reliable count and security of the technology from possible intrusion.

MAJOR ISSUES REGARDING INTERNET VOTING

A. Technology

 Verification of electronic signatures, secrecy of ballots, successful testing of reliability, and avoiding system failure are of the highest technological importance.[13] If these three objectives cannot be met with complete assurance, then the public’s reluctance may be warranted. However, there would be incredible amounts of money involved in creating simple yet adequate web pages, voting and ant-virus software, and security to protect the voting process. In addition, many people own or have access to a computer, and the Internet “highway” already exists. The easiest way to implement a new technology is to go through what currently exists at home and in hand.

     B. Security

Bar none, the most crucial issue in remote Internet voting is security.[14] Some advocates of Internet voting state that current encryption technology are sophisticated enough to ensure protection from hackers and a reliable count of the votes.[15] Systems that protect banks and commercial transactions could be used or modeled after to ensure safety.[16]

     CONCLUSION

The American voting process has fallen into shambles. This was never more apparent than at the Presidential elections in Florida. It is time for a complete overhaul of a burdensome and confusing system with the revolutionary concept of remote Internet voting. Although there are a few issues that must be addressed before it becomes a viable option, the profit and benefits are undeniable.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Crowley, Clamor for Overhaul of Voting System Resounds In Aftermath of Florida’s Election Muddle, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Dec. 14, 2000, at A-14.

 

Derek Dictson & Dan Ray, The Modern Democratic Revolution: An Objective Survey of Internet-Based Election, White Paper Jan. 2000, at 1, <wysiwg://30http//www.securepoll.com

 

WebVoting.org., Improving the Election Process, <http//www.webvoting.org

 

Pamela A Stone, Electronic Ballot Boxes: Legal Obstacles to Voting Over the Internet, 29 MCGEORGE L. REV. 977-980 (Summer 1998).

 

Collette Luchetta-Stendel, The E-Vote: A Proposal for an Interactive Federal Government, 17 J. MARSHAL J. COMPUTER & INFO. L. 1126-1127 (Summer 1999).


[1] Crowley, Clamor for Overhaul of Voting System Resounds In Aftermath of Florida’s Election Muddle, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Dec. 14, 2000, at A-14.

[2] id.

[3] id.

[4] id.

[5] Derek Dictson & Dan Ray, The Modern Democratic Revolution: An Objective Survey of Internet- Based Election, White Paper Jan. 2000, at 1, <wysiwyg://30/http//www.securepoll.com

[6] id.

[7] WebVoting.org., Improving the Election Process, <http//www.webvoting.org

[8] id.

[9] id.

[10] id.

[11] Crowley, Clamor for Overhaul of Voting System Resounds In Aftermath of Florida’s Election Muddle, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Dec. 14, 2000, at A-14.

[12] id.

[13] Pamela A. Stone, Electronic Ballot Boxes: Legal Obstacles to Voting Over the Internet, 29 MCGEORGE L. REV. 977-980 (Summer 1998).

[14] Colette Luchetta- Stendel, The E-Vote: A Proposal for an Interactive Federal Government, 17 J. MARSHAL J. COMPUTER & INFO. L. 1126-1127 (Summer 1999).

[15] id.

[16] id.