Imagine that it is Tuesday, November 4, 2008, and you realize that you have not yet voted for the candidate that you want to be President of the United States. The polls close at 7 p.m., and it is already 6:45 p.m. Instead of rushing off to the nearest polling place, you simply go to your computer, log in, fill out a ballot, and email your ballot to your designated polling website. The whole process takes fewer than ten minutes, and you have done your civic duty. Leading proponents of Internet voting point to five possible benefits of electronic voting: (1) increasing voter participation; (2) lowering the cost of participation for certain special populations, for example, disabled persons, minority groups, and frequent travelers; (3) attracting the hardest to reach voters into the political process; (4) increasing the quality of votes cast; and (5) allowing voters to revise their votes before the Election Day deadline. Further, an Internet polling place could provide voters with interactive access to election officials during working hours. Thus, voters could be connected at the click of a button to an election official who could provide needed advice or direction. However, opponents of Internet voting voice the following serious concerns: (1) lack of online security; (2) favoring some voters at the expense of others-for example, people with wealth or better quality of access to information; and (3) encouraging the further disintegration of civic life in the United States. Put more simply, Internet voting is the antithesis of our desirable community-based electoral process and goes against our Founding Fathers' vision in creating our voting system. Part II of this Comment will examine a brief history of voting in the United States and survey the issues raised by direct democracy. Part III explores the initiative and referendum process. Part IV provides background on Internet voting and its status today. Part V analyzes the implications of Internet voting. Finally, in Part VI, this Comment provides proactive steps that our lawmakers should follow to avoid likely complications from Internet voting.
Rebekah K. Browder, Internet Voting with Initiatives and Referendums: Stumbling Towards Direct Democracy, 29 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 485 (2005).
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