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No more excuses for not voting

By Moniqua Lane
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 27, 2000
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Voting Integrity Project, a Virginia-based voter watchdog group, is suing to keep Arizona Democrats from using the Internet as a means of polling in a March 11 primary election they are running themselves. The Democrats must hold their presidential primary on March 11 because the state-run presidential primary on Feb. 22 takes place before National Democratic Committee rules will allow the state party to vote. Voters using the Internet in the primary will be the first anywhere to do so in a binding public office election. Why anyone should want to prevent voters from voting via the Internet is a mystery; it is a great idea whose time has come. Internet polling is not unfair to people without Internet access such as the poor or some minorities; it will only facilitate voting for those who do vote, or those who want to vote and just can't seem to make it.

Voters, regular, first-time or inactive, should all be glad to see this idea finally come to fruition as it only makes voting easier for them. While the Democrats plan to offer computers with Internet polling at the traditional paper ballot polling places, the enormous advantage is that people will be able to vote from personal computers at home. Even better, voters can vote over the Internet from 12:01 a.m. on March 7 until 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This means no more excuses about being unable to get to the polling places before they closed or not knowing where the polling place is. With the advent of Internet polling, it would cease to be difficult to get to the polling place, because the polling place could be as close as the couch.

Now, if voting becomes easier to do, it follows that at least a few more people would vote - people who mean to vote, but never seem to make it to the polls. Internet polling could easily mean increased voter turnout (by which we, of course, mean cyber-turnout). History tells us that voter turnout is lower on election days that happen to coincide with inclement weather than on those that fall on sunny days. None of this need any longer concern pundits and scholars because voters will not even have to leave their homes to cast their ballots! This is much better, even, than shopping over the Internet; there are no worries about whether or not John McCain will make our butts look big.

The Internet also seems like a reasonable way to encourage young, non-voters to vote as it would facilitate voting the increasingly computer-savvy demographic. Things are so much less intimidating on the Internet, dating, shopping, buying stocks; why should the electoral process be any different? It shouldn't. In fact, voting on the Internet should be encouraged so that it becomes as natural to these persons as -just for example - surfing for porn.

While the Internet seems an obvious choice for the 21st century voter, some people claim that it is unfair to minorities and poor people who do not have access to the Internet.

They argue that voting over the Internet would tilt the political playing field away from these people. This is a fallacious assertion on two accounts. First, anyone who is unable to vote from his or her own computer is perfectly welcome to go to a traditional polling place to cast his or her ballot. There is nothing wrong with voting the old fashioned way - except, of course, that nobody does it, which is why Internet polling could only be an improvement.

Second, it is impossible for Internet polling to tilt the political playing field any further away from the poor than it already is because poor people, generally, don't vote. If a person doesn't vote, then it really doesn't matter whether he doesn't go to the polling booth at the school on the corner or doesn't go to the polling booth online; either way he doesn't vote. In this game, no vote equals no voice.

Internet polling may raise some security concerns, but these would be minimal. Obviously, as Arizona Democrats are trying to show us, this is feasible. County registrars trust Internet security enough to allow people to register to vote online. People feel secure enough about the Internet to bank and shop online; there is no reason they shouldn't feel the same about voting.

Moniqua Lane is a political science/history junior. She can be reached at editor@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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