Of all the election-related terms that would be rendered anachronistic by online voting, perhaps the most significant one might be the term “voter turnout”.
I have really grown to hate the significance of voter turnout.
Our entire election process, and our entire political process, is greatly determined by voter turnout. Elections are decided more by how many registered voters bother to show up in a given elections, than they are by the choices people make when they do vote.
One of the most common misconceptions about American elections is that they are often decided by the Independent voter. It is assumed that, given a binary choice between Republican and Democrat, each side will have a “base” of voters who will reliably vote a certain way. If 45% of voters cast a vote for the Dem, and another 45% vote for the GOP candidate, the election will not be decided by these base voters. It will be decided by those who are unaffiliated, who make unpredictable choices.
Yet in the overwhelming majority of elections, the outcome is not decided by unaffiliated voters. Elections are decided by who participates. Or more accurately, they are decided by who DOESN’T particpate.
Simply put, American elections are decided by “no shows”.
Turnout must be a very literal thing in American elections. If people don’t LITERALLY get up, get out, and go to a polling place to vote, their vote does not count. This of course extends all the way to every barrier that gets in a voter’s way. If a voter can not spend hours waiting on a line to vote, he or she is considered to not have turned out.
Voting should be a choice that citizens “turn in”. When a student submits a paper to a teacher, that paper is turned in. Today many students are getting their degrees online. When they turn in their papers, they are doing it electronically. The same thing is true with online voting. When you vote online, you “turn in” your preference. It is clearly recorded and your voice is heard.
We must do away with barriers to voting. We must do away with democracy decided by those who have the most time to turn out. We must see any voting system that makes voting so inconvenient, in an age where everything else we do is done online, as a barrier to democracy.
We must TURN IN the vote with Online Voting.
We must Cyber the vote.