I created this domain and blog shortly after the 2010 Midterm elections. I knew I wanted the site to encourage attention to the subject of internet voting in this country, and hoped the blog would be able to continually show the relevence of “voter turnout” to daily current events. I created the first basic template of the site, played around with a header design (I grew to like the image of Lincoln sitting there with a mouse in his hand), and assumed I would immediately then embark on posting daily blog entries.
What I did not anticipate was how difficult it would be to start that first blog entry. I started off trying to draft an overall outline of what I was setting out to achieve, and what brought about the creation of this site. Then I decided I should just begin on any given day by pointing out the relevence of this issue to that day’s news events. Then, as the events of the last couple of months have unfolded, from Egypt to Wisconson, it occurred to me that almost EVERY daily event in our lives has relevence to this issue.
In the end I have decided that I will try to post short daily thoughts on the first thing I see on the news that I feel relates to this issue, and I will begin doing that tomorrow. But for this first entry I would like to provide a short background of what got me to this point.
In 2010 the reality of the effect of lack of voter turnout was historically demonstrated in the U.S. Midterm elections. Before that election, media across the political spectrum continually pointed out to us the difference in poll results, regarding almost any issue, between registered and “likely” voters. The “likely” results being a calculation of who would actually vote on election day. The actual results of the election mirrored those calculations. Basically, the results of many races would have been drastically different if all the people who were registered to vote, did vote.
Additionally, I was sickened before the election by the onslaught of attack ads by shady third party groups, and their manipulation of voting groups, particularly seniors, usually against the interests of those very groups. In my home congressional district in upstate New York a freshmen congressman, who had been elected only a year earlier in a close special election to fill the seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, was unseated. Millions were spent on television ads by groups like “60 Plus”, an innocuous sounding name for a group fronting for interests that care little about the welfare of seniors. These ads railed against how horrible my congressman had been to seniors, despite his voting record being completely to the contrary.
In particular, the manipulation of senior voters is central to the issue of how flawed our voting system is. Seniors turn out to vote in far greater numbers than other demographics. As a result, our history is full of manipulation of senior voters. It is equally full of examples of voter suppression: Poll taxes, poll tests.
The more I began to think about these things following the 2010 midterms, the more interested I became in the issue of online voting. Online voting could all but eliminate the “enthusiasm gap”. But my initial research of the issue revealed a real lack of information out there, and no discussion whatsoever. I then began to consider creating this site and blog.
When I have mentioned the subject of internet voting to relatives and friends I have been greeted by two basic reactions. The most common is: “Do you think it can be done securely?”. When I hear this I am frankly shocked. Over a decade ago, when people talked about e-commerce (buying things online) or e-banking, critics always argued that consumers would never trust to give out their private financial information online. It would never work to expect people to type in their credit card numbers and trust the information is secure. Or make bill payments online. Now everyone does these things without thought. Millions of dollars are exchanged online and nobody questions the security. But voting? “Do you think it can be done securely?”. It is astonishing to me, yet almost all of the efforts against online voting use security as the rationale.
The other response to the subject of internet voting I received was by my brother, who remarked: “I’m sure someday that will be how voting is done”.
Of one thing I am sure, it will certainly not ever be how we vote in this country. Not without a fight. The same unimaginably powerful special interests who gain so much from slicing and dicing our electorate, and control our political process now more than ever before through their manipulation of particular voting groups, are the ones who will work to defeat any efforts at democratic reform.
If this blog gains any traction at all I fully expect it to be belittled by those who wish to defeat internet voting. When that occurs I guess I will know I am doing something right.
Tomorrow, it begins…Thanks for reading,