Voting on the Internet
Voting on the internet for federal, state and local elections would theoretically see an increase in the number of people turning out to vote. By introducing this new scheme, it would encourage more of the voting public to take an interest in their country’s democracy and the procedure that brings an individual to power – particularly in terms of allowing them to decide who they do or don’t wish to represent their views on the political stage.
1. What is your initial point of view?
Initially, it would seem that introducing and promoting voting on the internet is an excellent idea as it would enable more people to vote with ease – eliminating the annoyance of having to go to a specific place to vote and the time that this takes. From this point of view, it would theoretically increase the number of people who would vote – including young people whose voting habits are notoriously poor (Carlin).
2. How can you define your point of view more clearly?
In the 2008 presidential election, the young voter turnout was the highest it has been in several elections – 66% of young people aged between 18 and 29 voted (Horowitz et al.) but that still means that 34% of young people who were eligible to vote failed to do so. It is important that this improves as democracy is designed to represent what the people want and if the people don’t say what they want then democracy is effectively failing. By implementing online voting, the government would be enabling a far wider proportion of the population to.
3. What is an example of your point of view?
Since its conception in Ancient Greece, democracy has been a vital part of civilization and it has been repeatedly demonstrated how devastating the alternative’s effect can be. Aristotle strongly upheld the importance of voting as being the basis of a successful democracy, stating that: “When the people have sovereignty in the voting, they become sovereign in the constitution” (Burnyeat & Vlastos 98). By this, he meant that when the people engage with voting (and therefore with democracy) then they are taking control of their political selves and implementing their own wishes. Internet voting would enable the electorate to this far more freely and it would give rise to a new, stronger age of democracy.
4. What is the origin of your point of view?
This point of view originates from the Ancient Greek world and thinkers such as Aristotle who persistently claimed the importance of democracy as being a fundamental element within a successfully civilized culture. This impetus has been lost over the centuries – caught up amongst other things which demand our attention more impatiently and as such, the ability to vote is one which has been taken for granted.
5. What are your assumptions?
My assumptions are that be implementing internet voting, the number of voters would increase. This assumption is an obvious one which works on the basis that a lot of people are physically incapable of going to the polling stations and that an awful lot of people are also fundamentally lazy and won’t bother to vote after a long day at work or looking after children etc. So, I am assuming that by eliminating the ‘effort’ required to vote, more people would feel inclined to do so.
6. What are the reasons, evidence, and arguments that support your point of view?
Voting has always been a private affair but Plato suggested a platform for ‘open voting’ which would see individuals’ votes being publically displayed (Morrow 288). Whilst Plato did not suggest this as a ‘name and shame’ style alternative, it could be something which enabled people to happily display their votes. In an online voting system, the votes would be counted electronically there and then and would be able to immediately process who had and hadn’t voted allowing there to be a higher targeted focus on people who were not voting and potentially increase voter turnout in the future too.
7. What are other points of view on this issue?
Internet voting is something which would be quite controversial since it is a radical change and many people feel uncomfortable with this. For centuries, votes have been cast by dropping a poll card into a box, which is then counted later, by hand. Internet voting presents a new set of issues and potential problems such as security, for example, which many would argue makes it an ineffective process.
8. What is your conclusion, decision, solution, or prediction?
My conclusion is that online voting would see a return to former glories for democracy as it would enable a greater number of people to voice their views. My prediction is that until a system which is foolproof and totally secure can be created, it will not come to fruition although if it were my decision, I would be actively looking for ways to solve the security problem and implement online voting across the board.
9. What are the consequences of your point of view?
It is clear that this sort of initiative would be met with a degree of skepticism and so it would need to be perfected before being unleashed upon the public. However, if it was successfully done, online voting could potentially see a higher level of voter turnout and therefore a renewed interest in politics and democracy as a whole.
In conclusion, online voting would allow democracy to return to a former glory as it was first set out by the likes of Aristotle who clearly emphasized the importance of the voter as having some control over the politics and decisions which directly affect him. Whilst it may not be received happily at first, it would enable more of the population to vote easily and efficiently as well as leading to a swifter and more accurate result too.
“The Young Vote: Engaging America’s Youth in the 2008 Elections and Beyond.” Cali Carlin. Brookings. 4 Dec. 2007. Web. 2 September 2011.
“Young Voters in the 2008 Election.” Juliana Horowitz et al. Pew Research Center. N.d. Web. 2 September 2011.
Burnyeat, Myles & Vlastos, Gregory. Socratic Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print.
Morrow, Glenn Raymond. Plato’s Cretan city: a historical interpretation of the Laws. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1960. Print.