New Jersey, in a unique situation due to the election coming on the heels of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, is doing something that could change politics forever: allowing voters to vote by fax and email. Is this a mere historical anomaly or the state of things to come?
Voting might be the only thing you do today that doesn’t involve a computer. There is little doubt that turnout would increase and voting lines, some of which have gone past six hours in early voting, would shrink. So why not?
Security concerns. Data would be susceptible to hacking both on the voter’s end and the back end where the votes are tabulated. As with many things, the country’s richest nation need only look across its northern border to get a glimpse of a more progressive way of life. In Canada, over 80 cities and towns have been experimenting with online voting in local elections. Sweden, Latvia and Switzerland have all dipped their toes in the e-voting waters as well. However, most countries are hesitant to implement e-voting for national elections. There is one shining exception, who is undoubtedly the world leader in voting online. Care to guess?
You’re not going to get it, I’ll just tell you:
Estonia. The Baltic nation of 1.3 million has had online voting in all elections since 2007.
The key seems to be to smart small: implement it in cities and towns and work your way up. The benefits would be enormous to democratic participation, and a secure app could be designed to minimize security risks. Greater turnout tends to mean good news for liberals, so don’t expect many conservatives to get behind the trend, but someday soon, you just might be able to live the Estonian dream and vote from your living room.