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Inquiry Paper on Campaign 2000:

Internet Voting

Voting is defined as expressing the will or a preference in a matter by ballot,

voice, etc (Grolier 1). Voting on the Internet has become a major issue in the past

couple years. Their are many different groups who have very diverse opinions on

the role the Internet should play in the 2000 elections. The myriad types of on-line

voting systems proposed for use has resulted in many heated arguments in the world

of politics. Adversary’s of voting on the Internet state, “It would not be legally,

practically or fiscally feasible to develop a comprehensive remote Internet voting

system” (Phillips 3). However advocates of on-line voting argue, “There is nothing

inherently more mischievous about Internet voting than paper ballots” (Wayne 1).

Before a person can decide what side of the Internet voting debate they want to

support, they must be made aware of the issues at hand.

One method of on-line voting is The Polling Place System. This is generally

considered to be the most tamper proof system available to the public. The Polling

Place System is run a lot like the traditional paper ballot voting structure election

officials have used for many years (Phillips 2). The voters go to a designated voting

station and cast their votes using computers provided by the Federal Election

Commission, or FEC (Wayne 1). The election is under the control of election

officials at all times which allows for uniformity of communication privacy and

security protocols. Perhaps the greatest advantage to this system is the ability to

provide paper audit trails and additional identity verification (Phillips 2). The

capability to have a paper record of the ballots cast by each indiviual voter is what

makes this system the most tamper proof available.

The other process of Internet voting is called the Remote System. It is

believed that this system will result in a, “boost in voter turn out which is now at

historic lows”(Phillips 2). This belief is a result of how accessible this system will

make voting. The voter is responsible for providing the computer unlike the Polling

Place System. This allows the voter to cast their vote anywhere as long as they have

access to the Internet. However, the downfall of this system is the lack of paper audit

trails (Wayne 3). This in turn causes a lack of regulation in not only the ability to

track individual ballots but the uniformity of voting conditions (Phillips 3).

There are many advantages to voting on the Internet. One of the most

evident advantages is that it is cost effective. It virtually eliminates any need for the

current election provided equipment and the thousands of people working in the

voting booths (Popkin 17). The freedom voters will have to vote from any location

will eliminate the need for specific voting ballots (Phillips 2). This freedom will also

make voting more convenient and will probably boost voter turn out. It will allow

for a greater participation in voting from groups like business executives, overseas

military and young people. These three groups generally have a low voter turn out

but have readily access to the Internet (Wayne 2). This ability to access the Internet

on a regular basis is what is believed will raise their voter participation. On-line

voting will also eradicate the need for pole workers (Phillips 2). This work would be

handled by a small group of people working for the election vendor, the Internet site

people will vote from.

On-line voting also has many disadvantages when compared to the

traditional paper ballot system (Popkin 13). At this time there are no standards in

place for the election vendors. The lack regulations and uniformity can result in

many different ballot outcomes (Wayne 1). Other worries are that hackers may

infiltrate the computer voting system and manipulate the results. It is feared that a

hacker could implant a virus in the computers of the voters and substitute his own

vote for thousands of legitimate votes. This type of fraud would make prosecution

extremely difficult since there would no longer be physical evidence, like on paper

ballots, to prove such fraud (Phillips 4).

There are many different issues in debate over the topic of Internet voting. It

is the duty of every U.S. citizen to research these issues and decide whither or not

they want to support Internet voting. Both supporters and opponents of this issue

have stated very good and realistic points. Internet voting has become such a major

issue that one day every U.S. citizen will have to decide if that, “etc.”, in Groiler’s

definition of voting includes the Internet (Groiler 1).

Word Count: 776

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