Monday, October 31, 2016

The Internet of Voting

Of course I'm doing a political post.  But don't be too afraid, I promise not to talk about candidates or emails or actual politics.  But I will talk about issues.  One issue: Electronic Voting.

(Courtesy, The New York Times)

The Ideal

Imagine a world where we drop the 'Representative' out of 'Representative Democracy.'  All issues are submitted to the population for a vote.  We all get a notification on our device of choice, read up on the issue and submit our choice.  We all get an actual say in the direction our city, county, state/province and country goes.

Heck, why stop at country.  Trade agreements, sanctions and UN resolutions could go world wide to everyone and a real 'Will O' the People' could be enacted.  Everyone would have a say.  There would be no arguments about secret cabals controlling everything.  It would be beautiful.  #dogsandcatssleepingtogether

Why not?  Let me tell you

This can be done.  It will be done.  But it should not be done now.  The goal of all of this would be to level the playing field and let everyone have a voice.  An electronic voice.  And that's the first problem: not everyone has an electronic voice.  You do, after all you are reading this.  But there are people in even the most connected countries that do not have a smartphone or even a computer.  Whatever system records that Will O' the People, it has to take everyone into account.  And if this were to be global, then every oppressed indigenous pygmy goat herd would need to have some way of using it.  As far as we've come as a global community, we are far from making that happen.

Beyond voter rights and potential disenfranchisement, there are other issues with Security being first among them.  How are the votes to be secured against hacking?  If we can't keep nefarious people out of our financial institutions, government email servers and our security cameras, how are we going to ensure that voting is secure?  Imagine a some poor schlep at a call center getting, "Help! My thermostat just voted for capital punishment!"

Of course, that's just for the initial count.  What happens if there is a challenge?  What are the backups and the paper trails and the Jimmy Carters?  All of that needs to be in place and battle hardened before something like true over-the-internet electronic voting could ever happen.

(Courtesy, Telegragh UK)

The Uncanny Reality

Again, direct electronic voting will eventually happen.  For that matter, it is happening in certain parts of the world (Go, Estonia!).  Just not in those countries that purport to be on the forefront of technology.  Heck, even here inside the Freedom Fence, we can do proxy voting over the internet, but not policy voting.

Part of the challenge is that there is no standard.  Every county (and often every voting site), has autonomy on how the vote is counted.  Again, that's inside the US of A.  With no standard, there is no way to ensure equality of the plebiscite nationwide, much less world wide.  It will happen, but slowly, county by county.  Maybe even party by party.  When Arizona tried it, it was for a Democratic primary re-vote and not general election.  That was sixteen years ago and the best that the US has now is touch screen voting on a local system.

It will get better.  But slowly.

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