Thursday, August 18, 2011
Why Independents Should Demand Internet Voting
What is an "Independent"? Lots of people are asking that question these days. Are Independents conservative or liberal? Are they closet Dems or closet Repubs? Are they more focused on public finance issues than on social issues? Are they moderates, or centrists? Is there such a thing as a political center in the US?
One empirical element shared by Independent identifiers is that they don't identify with either of the two major political parties, which currently dominate US elections and government. In this sense, Independents are not only alienated from the political system, they are excluded from it. They are not just passively unrepresented in our "representative government," they are deliberately ignored by our elected representatives. That is, of course, until those elected officials need their votes in the next two-party system election.
Thanks to modern electronic technology, this need not be.
Imagine this: You are watching candidates debate online or on TV. After each debate you log on to your state's secure voting website, using your own PC, cell phone, or other electronic device. Your voter registration is checked, and then the voting window comes up. You enter your rating of each debater's performance, from 0-9.
Suppose further that entry to the debates is open to everyone who wants to be considered by the voters, and that all candidates are eliminated through a series of such debates. Qualification for candidacy can be as it is now in states like California; i.e., fulfill the signature requirements, pay a filing fee, and you are on the ballot and in the debates.
In this scenario, it is the political parties that are excluded from the candidate selection and election process. Suppose there are a dozen candidates for an office. Two one hour debates can be held per evening. In three evenings all twelve can be heard, considered, and voted on by the electorate. The next week a final debate can be held between the top two, so that the candidate is supported by a majority of the voters.
Here is an election process that can be used for all local, state, and federal offices, with only minor changes in state laws. No constitutional amendment is required. Ballot access is 100% nonpartisan – an Independent's Heaven, right here on Earth. Because no self-serving political party will control the process, the locus of power will move to where it should be in a democracy – to the center of voter preferences.
This picture can become reality by demanding that your state government, state Secretary of State, and local election officials implement an Internet voting system organized along the lines I have suggested. In consideration for their sacrifices and service, you can also demand Internet voting for your state's overseas military personnel. (For more on that, and the opposition to it, see my post on Natalie Tennant here on The Hankster, at http://bit.ly/o65o1t, and cited on Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog, at http://electionlawblog.org/?cat=49 Also see the new "tough love" review of my book, Internet Voting Now! at http://is.gd/Sc5vch )
William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
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Internet Voting Explained on