Did You Know?
Estonia in the year 2005 was the first country which held elections using an online voting system.
In a world of infinite technology, computer connectivity, big data, and cloud computing, the reality that several countries still use paper ballots for elections appears to be quite unusual. In the 21st century, which is also known as the information age, our society is heavily dependent on technology.
Internet voting is a method of casting a secure electronic ballot, which in turn is sent to election officials via the Internet. Typically there are three types of online voting:
Citizens can vote for the elections from anywhere like maybe their home or office.
Poll site voting:
Laptops or computers are set up in previous local poll spots.
Computers or machines are placed in malls, restaurants for the convenience of citizens.There are only few countries which allows its citizens to vote online for elections Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, and Canada
Famous television shows like Dancing with the Stars, Miss America, and American Idol
utilize online method of voting. Viewers cast their vote via text messages, phone calls, Facebook links, Whatsapp, etc. So the question is: Why the same technology that has altered our daily lives, is not being utilized to revolutionize important issues such as local or national election process? Why do we still need to rush to the nearest local polling place, and have to wait in the line?
To answer these questions let's learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of Internet voting.
Pros of Online Voting
The biggest benefit of online voting is convenience, for people who have Internet connectivity and a computer or laptop. It eliminates the need of waiting in long lines, transportation charges, ditching a day at school or work. It is easier for people with serious medical conditions. It's easy for homemakers too so they don't have to leave their baby behind while they cast their vote. Voters can vote anytime from any corner of the earth.
Since they use electronic ballots, there won't be a chance of unmarked, scratched, invalid notes. Results will be very accurate due to automated calculations.
3. Increase in Turnout
When voting is just a few clicks away, it is certain that more people would happily fulfill their moral duty. This type of voting will help churn out more young voters, mostly who fall under the age group of 18 to 30. This age group has 50% or less turnout rate, in a normal voting scenario. Since they are so familiar with technology and are already adapted to the use of smart phones and computers, the chances of them voting increases.
4. Increased Efficiency
Online voting gets rid off the voting machines, vote-counting volunteers, and election-day workers. Also due to Internet voting, results will be delivered on time, with a higher accuracy as compared to people counting the votes manually. No need to spend money on paper, ink since there won't be any use of paper ballots. Also, voters will have ample time to do their research on candidates.
5. Cheaper Elections
If online voting becomes mandatory, imagine how much money the country would be saving. Since voters would be putting forth their votes online. Setting up the entire voting process won't be required. They will be saving on manpower and other resources too.
Filling out local tax forms, mobile banking, online shopping, and online stock trading are secured in a way or two. A similar platform can be enabled to make sure that the encryptions can't be easily tampered with, and cast votes are authentic.
7. Elimination of polling location
Earlier schools and firehouses were used as a polling location. This meant disrupting the entire schedule of the students as well as the workers. However, with the arrival of online voting, setting up a location won't be required.
8. Email reminders and validation
It helps voters to remind them if they haven't voted yet. They keep sending reminders to their mail id. It validates your voter id by inspecting your email address and suggesting updates, if necessary.
9. Ability to correct mistakes
Before the voter submits the form, he/she has the option to make some changes in their vote before pressing the submit button.
10.Reduces the risk of over voting
Since the voter is a registered member, there is no scope of an individual to vote several times. The software records everything and shows an error if something like this happens.
Cons of Online Voting
Technology comes with its set of cons too, how can you trust the result of the election, when there are people who are capable of hacking the software and tampering the results? When they can break into high security websites, how can the voters have faith in this online system?
2. Election tampering and fraud
It's difficult to ascertain the identity of the person casting the vote. Also, along with security hackers, comes the whole set of viruses. Monitoring a huge number of viruses is an expensive task and it will never give you 100% safety.
3. Digital divide
Poor people who don't have access to computers or Internet are in no position to give their votes. It is made only for people who can afford one. Not to forget people who are computer illiterate and don't know the online process of voting. Such individuals are left out from casting their votes.
A small glitch in the whole process if identified and eliminated can still cause people to question the voting system. Especially people who are not comfortable using computers will have their own set of doubts to begin with.
Though there are more positives than negatives still it's a new thing for people, and it will take sometime for them to accept the online voting system. Don't you think if we can trust the online world with our personal information, bank account number, buying clothes online, can't we have a little faith when it comes to voting? Think about it!