Cost-Benefit Analysis. Is there anything more basic? It’s like “supply and demand”. You don’t have to be an MBA to understand that with ANY undertaking (in ANY realm be it in business or politics or, gosh, even voting technology) the first thing you do is a cost-benefit analysis. You look at the cost or challenges and analyze them, strive to minimize them, and then you, just as diligently, look at the benefits of the undertaking, and how you could maximize them. Then you compare. Then you weigh. You weigh those two things against each other, and decide if the benefits of the undertaking are worth the risk. You don’t make that decision first, looking only at the risk. You don’t ever do that. Not if you are looking at something seriously.
When it comes to online internet voting, it’s like the joke of “where’s the beef?”.
What happened to the benefit part of the analysis???
It doesn’t exist. Don’t take my word for it. Do what I did when I first began to “Google” this subject. Start reading the first few pages of Google results for Internet Voting. It is jam packed with over the top proclamations of how horrible, almost evil Internet voting is.
Yeah, I think we more than have the “cost” side of the analysis covered.
Businesses will often divide cost-benefit analysis into teams: A “cost team” and a “benefit team”. Each team does it’s research, and reports.
The chatter that dominates the blogosphere is the cost team’s report.
“The cost team reports that the Internet is evil. End of report.”
“OK, time to let the team looking at the Benefits of Internet Voting give their report on it’s findings”.
That’s when the “cost team” gets up and gags every member of the “benefit” team and then repeats it’s cost report again and again, with everyone else locked in the room.
Try an easy experiment. Go on any discussion group or website or blog that has the subject of Online Voting discussed anywhere and try to talk about the benefits of Internet Voting. See what happens. You will get your head handed to you.
When it comes to any discussion of Internet Voting, the blogosphere has never heard of Cost-BENEFIT analysis.
As far as Internet Voting is concerned, it is left to a handful of advocates that now include me to be the “Benefit team”.
And here is the report of the benefit team:
The benefit team can report that it’s understanding of the benefits of internet voting does not come from any dry, technical analysis. It comes from the common sense understanding that internet voting will drastically increase voter turnout in this country, particularly among younger voters. Any more in depth conclusions about the unbelievable benefits of cyber voting could only come after a longer, healthy discussion about what those benefits would be…should we give the voters a tool to drastically increase turnout.
Sounds like quite a large potential benefit. Certainly worthy of much productive discussion. AT LEAST as much discussion as has exhaustively been devoted to the costs. Why does the cost team get so much attention?
At which time the cost team then gets up and, like thugs, beat up the members of the benefit team.
Basically, the “benefit team” are advocates of online voting. The “cost team” are the detractors.
The cost team of online voting DOES NOT LIKE any time in the report meeting devoted to anything the benefit team has to say. If the benefit team wishes to speak, it must only be to respond to the cost allegations made by the cost team. Otherwise, the gags and the tire irons come out.
This has to change. The discussion about this important topic can no longer be completely dominated by the cost team. Especially because, in this case, the cost team is infested with fearmongers masquerading as election integrity advocates.
One such member of a cost team recently told me that a discussion of whether or not online voting would increase voter turnout was a “nonstarter” to her since, based on her conclusion that Internet Voting could NEVER be safe, it would be like analyzing the benefits of an addicting drug. Who cares what the benefits to the voters would be if online voting were implemented, since it is decided that the internet is evil?
The “Who cares what the benefit would be?” attitude toward Internet Voting must cease. And those who profess to care so much about our elections should be ashamed of themselves for ever adopting such attitudes, for the overt obstruction they carry out against any meaningful conversation about this subject. They ought to be utterly ashamed of themselves.
Let the Cost-Benefit analysis begin. And this time, let’s not forget the BENEFIT part!!