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Could E-Voting Cure Voter Apathy? 646

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sure-can't-make-it-worth dept.
Bendebecker notes that The Register is saying that "A major trial is about to kick off in the UK that could help decide whether e-voting is merely a gimmick or whether it can genuinely help cure voter apathy." Voter Apathy or Flash Poll Elections? What is the lesser of 2 evils?
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Could E-Voting Cure Voter Apathy?

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  • In a word, no! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonathonc (267596) <jonathon.despammed@com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:29PM (#5801484) Homepage
    The mechanism for voting will have little impact on current apathy. A significant proportion of the country doesn't vote because they have little or no faith in politicians and their constant lies, double standards, corruption and inability to keep promises. Sure, clicking a button will make it easier to vote but you're stilling voting for the same distrustful candidates.
    • You hit the nail right on the head. I vote, but it gets harder with every election to make myself vote for idiots.

      We truly need a revolution.
      • AHA! Then what we need is a button to click to make the choices better! A +1 Not an idiot bonus perhaps.
      • by stilwebm (129567) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:50PM (#5801755)
        With E-Voting you have to worry about another problem. Spontaneous, apathetic voters who are voting.

        Have you ever been in a political discussion where you wonder how the other person can even begin to believe his or her arguments are sound? Remember what AOL joining the Internet did to newsgroups, etc?
        • by missing000 (602285) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:13PM (#5802005)
          With E-Voting you have to worry about another problem. Spontaneous, apathetic voters who are voting.

          Have you ever been in a political discussion where you wonder how the other person can even begin to believe his or her arguments are sound? Remember what AOL joining the Internet did to newsgroups, etc?


          True, but one must observe that the AOL users slowly but surely have become much more educated and dare I say better netizins since the merge.

          I suspect that we may find the same thing with internet voting. If voters start voting online, I belive they will have a greater tendancy to find information online.
          Voters are already voting on soundbites. Any exposure to more communicative media should be encouraged.
          • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:05PM (#5803353)
            > If voters start voting online, I belive they will have a greater tendancy to find information online.

            If voters start voting online, I believe they will have a greater tendency to have their systems hijacked by "voteware" - the electoral equivalent to spyware - and won't have a frickin' clue who they voted for, or why.

            Imagine downloading a EULA that says "By installing this software, you agree to install VoteGator on your system! VoteGator keeps you informed of $PARTY's hot new offers! Use VoteGator for all your voting needs!"

            (And just think of the "fun" an enemy agent could have with a .VBS worm :)

            Call me a Luddite, but I think I'll pass on e-voting.

    • Re:In a word, no! (Score:2, Redundant)

      by edrugtrader (442064)
      i am personally too lazy to figure out where i have to go, and generally don't like standing in long lines to fill out archaic forms.

      online voting would indeed get this non-voter to the polls.

      save all the 'you should vote' comments. i'm too lazy to even read them.
      • by Omega (1602) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:27PM (#5802887) Homepage
        You admit yourself:
        i am personally too lazy to figure out where i have to go, and generally don't like standing in long lines to fill out archaic forms.
        I have to say, the prospect of someone like you voting scares the living shit out of me. You don't want to be bothered with figuring out how to vote and you don't want to make any time sacrifice to go vote -- so it's likely you don't want to be bothered with reading the voter's guide or paying attention to all the issues at stake. I would feel much more comfortable if all voters made fully informed decisions. Of course I know that this doesn't always happen, but by making the process slightly inconvenient it helps weed out the people who don't care enough to participate anyway. Please don't take personal offense at this, I'm sure you're a very nice person.

        This is precisely one of the problems with online voting. If you're not willing to exert the effort to go to a polling place, you shouldn't be voting anyway.

        Another problem with online voting is the digital divide. A new study found that 42% of Americans aren't online [pewinternet.org]. That's doesn't necessarily correspond to 42% of registered voters, but a number that large shows that online voting won't benefit a significant number of people.

        Probably the single best way to improve voter participation is to move elections to Sunday. Almost everyone in the country either has Sunday off or they don't have to work normal polling hours on Sunday (7 AM to 7 PM). Many countries around the world have elections on Sundays, I can't believe we still use Tuesdays.

    • In many cases (Score:4, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:35PM (#5801559) Journal
      It's not worth driving down to the voting booth, waiting in line, but if this process were easy though, it could help clear things up.

      I think this would have an age-gap stopper though, since you're mostly going to see the younger people getting into the "e-voting is cool" phase (and many older generation can't even use a PC), at least at first.

      What we really need though, is a system to be able to vote on issues that are important to us. If we combined a system that took the parliamentary vote, along with combined citizen votes (net-votes, etc) - at least we'd have more say in things.
    • Re:In a word, no! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mz001b (122709) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:36PM (#5801563)
      A significant proportion of the country doesn't vote because they have little or no faith in politicians and their constant lies, double standards, corruption and inability to keep promises. Sure, clicking a button will make it easier to vote but you're stilling voting for the same distrustful candidates.

      That is why we need a "None of the above" choice on the ballot too. California tried this via referendum, but it didn't go through.

      • Re:In a word, no! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Usquebaugh (230216)
        No, we need a lottery for elected officials.

        All I want is to be ruled by my peers. The none of the above clause will just cause the politcos to be worse not better. We need to remove the career politician.

        My way if you're eligable to vote your name is entered in a lottery if you win you get the job.

        If you choose not to server your passport is revoked for your term, in effect you become a non-citizen, unable to travel etc.

        For congress/senate there is a 25% turnover each year.

        This system would elect a
        • Re:In a word, no! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jasenj1 (575309) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:45PM (#5802368)
          This would lead to the country being run by career bureaucrats. The newly elected people would be controlled by the support staff. And, a lot of those chosen by the lottery very likely wouldn't have the brain-power to understand what was going on.

          IMHO, politics in the USA is focused way too much at the federal level. If the local newspapers, TV news and such would cover LOCAL politics more, and local politicians had far more influence over our lives, the average citizen would feel their vote counted a whole lot more. As it is now, you constantly here how the feds are doling out money for this and that, and local & state governments line up to get their hand out. I don't think the framers of our nation intended for the Fed to be anywhere near as powerful as it is.

          I'll stop rambling now.

          - Jasen.
          • Re:In a word, no! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vsprintf (579676)

            IMHO, politics in the USA is focused way too much at the federal level.

            Absolutely. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to retain personal and states rights and to limit the power of the federal government. Since the signing, it's been a continual power grab by the federal government. It is not what the founders intended.

      • There are different semantics available for None-of-the-Above votes, including "Bounce them all and hold an election with better candidates" and "office stays unfilled". In N-seat elections, e.g. at-large city council elections, people have tried running "None of the above", but it turns out that you can get weird and ambiguous results which can make it impossible to tell how to vote to get what you want unless it's implemented carefully.

        I always liked Wavy Gravy [wavygravy.net]'s "Nobody for President! [nobodyforpresident.org]" campaign.

        • Nobody
      • DAMN STRAIGHT! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wowbagger (69688)
        Thank you for talking about BNTOA (Binding None Of The Above), a pet subject of mine.

        You need to do one other thing, as well, IMHO: You need to recognize that the "primaries" are nothing of the sort - they are a wart on the side of the electoral process, completely outside the scope of the laws defining the system. They are purely a function of the political parties.

        The best thing in the world would be to de-emphasise them, by:

        1) not allowing the parties access to the voter rolls as maintained by the Sta
    • Don't throw around such valid statistics as "a significant proportion". It's pure conjecture on your part. You can't comment on what a significant proportion of the country thinks. Well, that is, unless you polled them yourself and found a statistically significant finding.
    • Re:In a word, no! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sure there are bad politicians, but I don't believe that this is the cause of voter apathy. Politics has always been America's favorite contact sport.

      The cause of voter apathy is the centralization of power away from town councils and county seats to Washington DC.

      Debating the city councilman who is also ones neighbor and with whom one knows they may have an impact on issues that affect ones day to day life is meaningful and engaging.

      The ultimate in voter impotence is complete and total micromanagment of
    • Actually I think a lot of voter apathy is because
      1) one politician is ahead far enough in the polls such that the election is pretty well decided 2) both politicians are acceptable and they don't favor one above the other 3) they are simply lazy and don't follow current events enough to care

      I unfortunately think (3) is all too common. It is partially why turnout for Presidential elections in the US is so much higher than for local elections. However to be honest I think the other two are true as wel

    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:47PM (#5801722) Journal

      I think apathy actually works as a weighting mechanism in our current form of voting. People who care little about politics get a smaller vote because they didn't take the opportunity they were given. People who care greatly about politics, or at least a specific issue, are willing to wait in lines and do whatever is necessary. They tend to get weighted a bit more heavily in our society. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. The public gets to decide on the weighting based on their own actions. If the government were selecting a weighting, then we'd really have a problem. But I don't see exactly why we need to go to great lengths to solve the voter apathy "problem".

      GMD

    • Here's a US Census Bureau article on reasons people didn't vote. [census.gov] The biggest answer given was "too busy, conflicting schedule" (34.9%), followed by "Not interested" (12%) illness (11%) "Didn't like candidates" (5%) "out of town"(8%) etc. It's got lots of detailed breakdowns of their survey category, and the total sample size was only 40,000 people, somewhat biased by being the kinds of people who are willing to talk to the US Census Bureau (e.g. "Not a citizen" wasn't in there, and "don't trust the govern
  • Just wait until the l33t kiddy h4xx0rs find a way to get into the election "virtual voting booth". This could open the elections up to teenagers under the age of 18 if someone found a way around the system. Can you say multiple votes?

    Of course there are ways to ensure this dosen't happen.. but nothing's impossible.
  • All the elections at my school take place online. However, in order to prevent identity theft, I would surmise that personal information is going to be stored on some governement controlled central server. I don't have a problem with the government having that info(they GIVE me my SSN#!), but I would be curious as to how they would secure it, and if there was some law saying it couldn't even be givin to another dept of the government, this would be bloody awesome! Although it's sad that in our democracy I'm
    • The problem though is our current system of voting in person allows you to vote without worry of someone knowing who you voted for. That will be impossible with online voting.
      • Re:About Time! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by st0rmcold (614019) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:43PM (#5801652) Homepage

        Sure you can, as long as the system dissassociates who you are with who you voted for, basically authenticate you a valid voter, and only allow you one vote, but stick your vote in a pile in the DB instead of associating with the person who voted, so they can keep track of who voted, but not who they voted for, and still have a set of results.
  • by I'm A Librarian (666791) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:31PM (#5801504)
    • Voter Apathy
    • Flash Poll Elections
    • CowboyNeal
  • Voter Apathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmongar (230600) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:32PM (#5801520)
    Voter apathy isn't because people don't want to get out to vote, or because voting is too hard. It is because no matter who you vote for there is a feeling that the corporations own them anyway and it doesn't matter. It is like on futurama where the two people running against eachother were clones of the same person.
    • Re:Voter Apathy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Flamesplash (469287)
      Actually I don't vote because the options always suck. I don't like choosing the better of two evils. I don't particularly think many people feel like they are fighting corporations when they decide to vote or not.
      • Re:Voter Apathy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MobyDisk (75490)
        That doesn't solve the problem, but here is what does: vote for a write-in, or whatever party is behind. Let me show you what that does:

        Here in Maryland, during the last gubernatorial election, the Libertarian party needed 2% of the vote to be recognized as an official party and get campaign funding. Alas, they didn't get 2%, so as a result, we have fewer options. But think about this exciting thought! Voter turnout was about 55%. So suppose that that 45% went out and voted for a random 3rd party. Th
    • I tend to agree to a point, but remember, a Corporation is nothing but one group of workers getting together to provide for a need that another group of individuals has -- whether it is a service (consulting), a product (manufacturing), or a combination (retail sales). Corporations are not bad, but individuals can be. The only time a corporation can be truly bad is if it is a monopoly, and monopolies can ONLY get their power if the state subsidizes them, or restrains fair competition.

      You're sounding like
    • web campaigns only (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cat_jesus (525334)
      This is true. I have been thinking for quite some time now that we should pass a law requiring candidates to only use a government provided website to communicate their positions. This way they wouldn't need huge sums of money for prime time advertising, the hosting and bandwidth usage should be fairly cheap. This way they won't have to prostitute themselves to the corporations.

      Of course the only way to make this happen in the US would be with a constitutional amendment. But if we were able to ban and then
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:32PM (#5801521)
    For the first hacker to stuff a million votes into the e-voting box.
  • Yes. (Score:2, Funny)

    by pete-classic (75983)
    The same way that fast food drive through windows have cured hunger.

    -Peter
  • ...it might make the politicians realise that voter apathy is not merely a result of people being too lazy to walk to the polls, but because people are completely dissillusioned with British politics. But then again, maybe it won't.
  • by Kedanoth (591243) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:34PM (#5801538)
    if they make an American Idol: President Edition, they might get more people to vote...
    ...unless the candidate tries to sing "Endless Love". He's not getting jack from me.
  • It's a gimmick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buzzdecafe (583889) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:35PM (#5801551)
    The cause of voter apathy is people's (correct) realization that they have no real say in elections. So why bother? Whoever raises the most money wins, or at best, you have a situation where people are presented with "the evil of two lessers" (Michael Moore's phrase) -- such as W. and Gore.


    The cure is more democracy. Abolish the electoral college. Make elections publicly funded, and ban private funding. Implement proportional representation to break the "two-party" system.


    . . . and as long as I'm in fantasyland, let's build a time-travel device, and create a perpetual motion machine.

    • Re:It's a gimmick (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286)
      Abolish the electoral college

      ...and no candidate for US Presidency will ever set foot in Montana again, which, barring any new initiative from the Green Party, is not likely to happen soon.

    • I don't think removing the EC is the best thing, rather making it on a much smaller scale, ie County by county. I'm not positive but I would imagine that our counties now are closer to the size of the states when the EC was brought around.

      Afaik the members of the EC don't do anything other than cast their presidential votes, which are _suppposed_ to be representative, so just cut out the actual people and do the voting on a county level.
    • The cure is more democracy. Abolish the electoral college

      I believe that the electoral college is a good thing. One of the things that the founding fathers worried about was tyranny of the majority. That a few big states would run roughshod over the small states. Hence, the division of powers between the House and the Senate, and devices such as the Electoral College.

      Without the Electoral College, the candidates would focus exclusively on the major urban centers where all the votes are. The rural area

    • Re:It's a gimmick (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realdpk (116490)
      A lesser cure, and probably one that'd be easier to implement, would be to restore the power of the state. The more local the election, the more likely the populace will be accurately represented by the people. IE a city council chairman is far more accessable than any US congressional senator will ever be, but the city council has almost no say in what goes on, relatively.

      One step towards this, in the US, would be to change how income taxes are paid. Have the states collect it, and then forward a reasonab
  • No way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corebreech (469871) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:35PM (#5801554) Journal
    Not until we can devise a foolproof way of ensuring against voter fraud that the layperson can understand.

    Schneier makes an attempt at this but it's pretty convoluted, I'm not even sure I understand it all and I at least know a little about this kind of stuff.

    We may have to consider publishing who a person votes for. I know it goes against the grain of a longstanding tradition, but to make the protocol simple enough for the average person to understand while keeping it free of fraud may require nothing less.
    • Re:No way (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AMuse (121806)
      I'm not sure I can agree with you that publishing a persons' vote would be a good thing. The anonymous ballot was introduced because of the idea that if a popular political party in power knows, for certain, who voted against them, they can begin retribution against persons who did. Especially rivals.

      Doing away with the anonymous ballot would allow people to feel pressured to cast a 'popular' vote on unpopular issues rather than their true feeling, as well. I'm all for the legalization of marijuana, but I
    • by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:20PM (#5802085)
      Any election system which allows a voter to prove how he voted is unconstitutional in many states. This includes publishing ballots by name, publishing ballots by issued ID, etc. I know Colorado has this provision in its constitution because it came up when a local performance artist/election system designer tried to convince the City of Boulder to try telephone voting using software to be written by student volunteers.

      The reason for this restriction, as others have stated, is to prevent election fraud. If you can't prove how you voted, there's no point in buying votes or attempting to coerce voters.

      The other manifestation of the same restriction is that you must vote in private. Nobody can join you in the voting booth, etc. After all, external proof of how you voted is irrelevant if some 300 lb guy with a lead pipe is in the booth with you.

      Ironically, this is provided by voting in public. Since others are around, nobody can force themselves into your voting booth.

      But e-voting systems fail miserably at this. If I can vote from the convenience of my home:

      - a battered woman can be forced to vote "the right way" by her abusive husband. (or use "spouse" all around, since there are some battered husbands)

      - an employee can be forced to vote in his boss's office.

      - a church group can get together to pray and then "Witness" each other voting the right way.

      and so forth. All highly illegal, but difficult to prove and expensive to buck since you're still beaten up, fired, excommunicated, whatever.
  • Would actual candidates who differed from each other and offered something of interest reduce apathy?

    Would a belief that the candidates are not chosen (through funding) by corporations and lobbies perhaps increase voting?

    Would a non-binding "none of the above" give people a way to come out and make a statement, rather than stay home and not vote at all?

    Would a "check off all acceptable candidates" (not 1-4, just yeah/nay) make a difference and broaden the number of parties from the republicrat monopoly

  • E-voting would go far to curing voter apathy, but would almost guarantee problems.

    1) This would be the biggest shiniest target for hackers around the world. What a convienent way to subvert the American democracy... From your desk in China! And much cheaper than giving huge donations to the democratic party!

    2) This would be the biggest target for hackers in the US. All those crazy Libertarian high-tech industry workers would finally get a Libertarian president. Who cares if the exit polls dont even re
  • Do we get a Cowboyneal option?
  • There is one huge problem. No-one can verify that you really have cast the vote and not your Hitler-loving-neighbour-with-huge-shotgun. Buying votes or forcing people to vote would become a huge issue. (Of course this seems to happen in someplaces today, but surely not everywhere)
  • skewed samples (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Frostalicious (657235)
    This is good for slashdotters. Currently, you have to haul your lazy ass down to the voting station, and lots don't want to do this. Voting results are thus skewed towards the will of the politically active. The politicians surely know this, and pander to them.

    Online voting will allow the lazy of ass to participate, and thus skew the results more towards the technologically aware individuals. Again, the politicians will be aware of this, and would start taking technological issues more seriously, to
    • I've been voting from home ever since Arizona started allowing it. They send you the paper ballot in the mail, you mark it up, then mail it back. No waiting in lines.
    • you presume that the technologically aware individuals make up a large enough block in all districts that it would matter for the politicians to pander to you. that may be true for national (i.e. presidential) elections, but not for the local elections.
  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shockmaster (659961) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:39PM (#5801598) Homepage
    I disagree. I think that many people do not vote because it is simply time-consuming and does not fit into their schedule. While it will not be as simple as voting in Slashdot poll (for example), the process will be considerably simpler that going to a B&M voting booth. Compare e-filing of taxes and standard paper filing. I think that more people are now able to take a process that they previously found so difficult they had others do it for them, and now can get it done in their own home in an hour or two.

    If voting were simpler, those people disillusioned with the two bipartisan condidates might be more willing to cast their vote for a third-party candidate.

    Also, eVoting would perhaps lessen the value of the poor voter. While lazy upper/middle-class voters with home computers and Internet connections could easily vote, those without them are still unlikely to vote.

  • Should help (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:39PM (#5801608) Journal
    ATM machines, online banking and credit mechanisms, and online traders made it easier for people to invest and work the stock market. Now many, many more people perform the above.

    Voter participation should likewise increase through the use of varied voting methods, including one that can be easily done from home.

  • by praksys (246544) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:39PM (#5801609) Homepage
    (1) Anyone who is too lazy to go to a polling station should not be voting anyway. If they do not care enough to make that much effort, then it is highly unlikely that they would care enought to get informed, and make a good choice.

    (2) If people are apathetic because they do not like any of the choices available then making it easier to vote will have no effect (let's see - would you like to eat broken glass or dog-food? Would delivery to your door-step make the choice easier?).

    (3) If people are apathetic because they would be equally happy with either party then again making it easier to vote will not make a difference.
  • I thought about going to RTFA and posting something meaningful, but eh why bother....
  • How many people do you know that get to work, see the "I Voted Today" stickers on their co-workers, realize that its election day, then realize that they don't have time to go vote?

    This way they could just take 5 minutes, log on, vote, log out, and be done with it.

    Not that this will solve the real problems with politics.

    When will people realize that the most effective Congressman is the one who passes no more laws than absolutely necessary?

    Its like the effective System Administrator. If he does his job
  • The postal vote only trials showed a not unnoticable increase in voting compared to areas that did not try postal voting. I dont recall how many of these were spoiled votes, though.

    I would be concerned if it lead to some people treating the election as they would a slashdot poll, selecting whatever took their fancy instead of a considered decision as to who want to [not] represent your opinion [that means fuck all to them].

    I would like to see online voting used for referendums for things that would otherw
  • Why cure it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sevensharpnine (231974) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:44PM (#5801668)
    If people are too lazy to vote, let them sit home on election day. The rest of us will happily do our part to decide their future.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:44PM (#5801677) Homepage Journal
    This is great for a democracy like the UK, but for a Republic like the US, this isn't the best idea.

    Although long forgotten, our Constitution is the law of the land in only one way: it restricts government from infringing on the rights of the sovereign people and the States. This means we are NOT a democracy. As the famous quote goes, a democracy is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

    E-Voting is a great idea, but it has immense limitations. Our Republic was designed to protect the minority (as small as one person) from a crazy majority. It is only because we have forgotten about the Republic that such unconstitutional programs such as Social Security, Federal Education subsidies and control, and the Welfare State have come into existance (wholly socialist schemes that truly have no place in a free culture). I capitalized them because they should really be trademarked ;)

    I like the idea of E-Voting so long as the Supreme Court actually does the job intended, to protect the rights of the people by making sure ALL laws abide by the Constitutional restraints on government. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is handled by Socialists and Fascists, not Constitutionalists, so we would be at great risk of losing the country to both the Socialist left and the Fascist right, both of which feed each other's desires by giving in to bad schemes.

    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:00PM (#5802542)
      "This is great for a democracy like the UK, but for a Republic like the US, this isn't the best idea."

      I swear, if I hear one more person say that "The US isn't a democracy, it's a republic," I'm going to kill somebody.

      First off, what you're trying to drive at isn't "the US is a republic" so much as "the US is a federal republic." The "federal" part is how state's rights come into the equation, and also explains how democracy is used in our country (in a decentrallized manner).

      Secondly, I'd personally say the US is more democratic than the UK. The election of the US president is far more accessible to the public than the election of the UK's prime minister, members of the upper house of the US legislature are chosen democratically while members of the House of Lords are born into the role, and there's still that monarchy bit.

      "This means we are NOT a democracy."

      How is it members of the House of Representatives are chosen again? Or the Senate, as of 1913? Hm? And that doesn't even begin to get into questions about our state and local governments. The only way we're not a democracy is if you compare us to a "true" democracy, where there is no legislature and the people vote on laws directly (offering Socrates a drink on the house).

      You get the "we're a republic" from the bit of the federal constitution that says the states will have a "republican form of government." But don't forget that those governments have been formed democratically since before there even was a United States (let alone a federal constitution).

      "Our Republic was designed to protect the minority (as small as one person) from a crazy majority"

      RepublicS. And you're mincing words. The federal constitution was written in such a way to detatch the federal government from the passions of the mob (paraphrasing) while maintaining a decentralized power base (ie. federal). Note that there is no mention of the individual in the original document. The federal constitution has little to say about the role of the individual because that's what state constitutions are for.

      "It is only because we have forgotten about the Republic that such unconstitutional programs such as Social Security, Federal Education subsidies and control, and the Welfare State have come into existance (wholly socialist schemes that truly have no place in a free culture)"

      At worst they violate the Tenth Amendment, and vaguely at that. The only thing really restricting the way Congress spends its money is the Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which says they can't give themselves pay raises.

      "so long as the Supreme Court actually does the job intended, to protect the rights of the people by making sure ALL laws abide by the Constitutional restraints on government."

      Where exactly in the federal constitution does it mention the concept of judicial review? Hint: It doesn't. In many ways it's a power the court gave itself in the early Nineteenth Century.

      "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is handled by Socialists and Fascists, not onstitutionalists"

      Then complain your democratically elected members of Congress. The ones that the federal constitution grants the power to impeach any and all federal judges. Oh, wait, that's right, you don't believe there's democracy in this country...

      "so we would be at great risk of losing the country to both the Socialist left and the Fascist right, both of which feed each other's desires by giving in to bad schemes."

      Get off your damned soap box before you embarass yourself any further. You're giving us true political crackpots a bad name.
  • BEtween making it easy for everyone to vote, and thinking if your too fucking lazy to walk 2 blocks once a year then we dont want you running the country. Or if youre too stupid to figure out the system. Can the online one include a little I.Q. test? PLease?!?! That teh Candidates have to pass too.
  • Before anybody applauds the idea of electronic voting, it would be wise to take a look at the following two web sites, and the links therein:

    Notable Software [notablesoftware.com]

    Black Box Voting [blackboxvoting.com]

    Then feel free to start talking about the merits of a rush to e-voting...
  • by mdfst13 (664665) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:45PM (#5801698)
    Is voter apathy not voting? Even ignoring the potential increase in votes by dead people, this proposal would make it easier to vote and thus increase the percentage of people voting. I'm not sure that this is a good thing.

    Many of the people who vote now do so without taking the time to understand the issues and the candidates' stands on the issues. Decreasing the barriers to voting will only increase the amount of stupid voting. I would rather have fewer voters who take more time to study the likely effects of their votes.

    I encourage everyone to exhibit that kind of apathy. If you don't know what's going on, don't vote. I've done this selectively. If I am voting and have no real clue why one choice might be better than the other, I skip it and move on. Otoh, if you do want to vote, take the time to understand what's happening, look at the candidates and determine why they pick their positions.

    Support democracy; vote with intelligence.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:47PM (#5801724) Homepage
    Give the people candidates who are actually worth voting for.
  • Hell No! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BionicTowed (642695)
    Why would we want someone who is apathetic making major decisions? I don't want to see a cure for the lack of voting, I want to see a cure for apathy.
  • I think it would help. Here are some of the reasons I hate going to vote:
    • Those annoying people who try to get you to change your vote when you walk in to the polling location. Why do they let those people hang around?
    Well I guess that's only one reason but I really hate those people.
  • by rodney dill (631059) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:49PM (#5801747) Journal
    e-voting that takes place in other than an official polling place with be a magnet for abuse.

    You will have a lot of representatives from the DNC visiting nursing homes to help people that don't get to the polls to vote for the "right" candidate.

    Not that this doesn't happen with absentee voting already, but the abuse will increase, and the weak minded will have loads of help in casting their votes.
  • what is good about the uninformed and apathetic and disinterested voting to change my country to benefit them? We're not talking about fscking voting for class president at Springfield Jr. High. We're talking about people who are lazy - by nature, hence they don't vote - voting to confiscate what i work for to put into things which benefit them, and hurt me.

    I would be more enclined to understand an allow the confiscation of my money if i were eligible to partake in the fruits of my labor - but the simple
  • by Nijika (525558) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:51PM (#5801771) Homepage Journal
    While this will enable lazy voters, it won't really help with being informed. I predict that this'll just end up snaring votes for candidates with names like aa11John Smith or something ;)

    If you get your ass up, get dressed, go down the street and stand in line so you can present ID to vote, you probably have at least some idea who you're going to vote for.

    If you can do it naked, from your bed while eating Doritos, you may not have the same commitment.

  • by Michael_Burton (608237) <michaelburton@brainrow.com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:51PM (#5801774) Homepage

    I seem to get some sort of security bulletin at least once a week. They're not all Windows vulnerabilities, either. I don't think we know how to do computer security well enough just yet to entrust our democracy to it. The voter identity systems and the tabulators must both be absolutely hack-proof.

    How do we handle failures? Do I lose my right to vote if there's a cable cut somewhere between me and the Board of Elections? Do I lose my right to vote if my ISP has screwed up some routing table? Can a DoS attack deny my right to vote?

    Because computers cost money, online voting makes it easier for those with enough money to have a computer to vote, and thus marginally disenfranchises those who don't.

    Still, I'm all in favor of testing. Only when we've seen how this stuff works--and how it fails--will we start to understand what it's going to take to do this right. It's important to get it right.

  • by _RidG_ (603552) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @02:54PM (#5801802)
    Voting apathy is indeed a serious issue, especially here in US. Whenever I go to vote to my local station, instead of seeing a great deal of people, I'm lucky if there's another person there. I've checked out other voting stations just out of interest, and even talked to the volunteers who work those days, and they all told me the same thing - people are just not voting.

    This, of course, greatly empowers the people who do vote, since their votes count proportionally higher. Does this go against the "everybody gets one vote" principle? Perhaps. Worse yet, a number of people seem content treating elections - even presidential - as a game. A number of my friends voted for Nader during the last election, knowing full well that he wasn't going to get even 5% (he got something like 3%, as far as I recall), and not even necessarily supporting his program. Their justifications was that, "Well, I don't like either Bush or Gore, so I'm going to vote Green." If even a fraction of those who threw their vote away for Nader voted for Al Gore, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

    Just ramblings, of course, and now I've gone completely off-topic. Ah well :)
  • by afabbro (33948) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:02PM (#5801891) Homepage
    We have mail-in voting here in Oregon. It's ridiculously easy to vote. The government mails you the form and a voter guide, into which anyone can put a page of his two cents for some fee (I think $500 - candidates, etc. get free pages).

    Mark, put in envelope, put in mail. Very easy. We still have low voter turnout. Even when the issue is beyond the normal election - e.g., "vote yes to raise your income taxes, vote no to not raise them" - we still don't see much participation.

    I doubt whether voting on-line would change anything. It's marginally more convenient (no need to physically put the letter in the mailbox) but...

  • Voter apathy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by M.C. Hampster (541262) <M...C...TheHampster@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:05PM (#5801919) Journal

    Go ahead and mod me as flamebait, but...

    I never understanded why people feel a need to cure a problem that really isn't a problem. Who cares about people who think it is too much hassle to vote? Or think their vote doesn't make a difference? Or who just doesn't care? Leave voting to those who try to remain informed, and who actually feel a civic duty to do so.

  • By a landslide write-in upset of 97 trillion votes. Electronic fraud is suspected in the election, results of the investigation are pending...
  • harder is better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oconnorcjo (242077) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:09PM (#5801959) Journal
    I think voting should only be done by people who are interested and INFORMED about the issues/principles of the candidates involved. If someone has not done time and research into making a good decision then THEY SHOULD NOT VOTE!

    The idea of making voting easier seems counterproductive when the goal is for the best candidate verses who has the best smile or sense of humor. I could see airheads saying "I need to vote for someone... I know- I will vote for Bill Gates for president because I have heard his name before." In the United States, at one time, one needed to pass a litteracy exam and own property. I would love there to be a simple exam to pass before becoming a registered voter (something like who was the first president of the USA, how many states are in the USA and etc...). Now I know this is being done in England but I hope it never comes to the U.S.- especially if it is successful.

  • by robla (4860) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:10PM (#5801971) Homepage Journal
    The little dig at the end of the CmdrTaco's intro is absolutely correct. There's a pretty big link between voter apathy and the "lesser of two evils" problem. The root cause for the lesser of two evils problem is Duverger's Law [wikipedia.org], which gives us the two party system. The link between voter apathy and two-party systems is pretty unmistakable, and there's a lot of research on the subject showing it. Read the Wikipedia link above for good starting reference material.

    Rob Lanphier
    p.s. Visit Electorama! [electorama.com] for more on this subject
  • by E1v!$ (267945) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:11PM (#5801987) Homepage
    My vote has more weight the way things are now!
  • by Quixadhal (45024) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:14PM (#5802015) Homepage Journal
    I live in Michigan. Thanks to our super-DMCA law, which makes it a felony to conceal the source of any electronic transmission, we cannot have E-voting machines unless we give up anonymous votes.

    "What's good enough for Granddad, is good enough for me. The way it was, that's the way it's got to be."
  • by Cutriss (262920) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:19PM (#5802080) Homepage
    You know...Frankly I'm shocked, and not surprised. A lot of the replies here seem to be concerned with the idea that if you make it easier for voters to do their civic duty, you get people who really don't give a damn tilting the scales one way or the other.

    But that is what democracy is all about! It's not about "power to the rich" or "power to the intellectuals"...which often wind up being synonymous.

    If you stand against online voting because it would "dilute the vote", then you're essentially arguing the same position that the South argued before the American Civil War, that "all people should count for tax purposes, but they don't get a vote". You can argue against it for many other reasons (lack of security, infrastructure, etc)...but *please* don't pick that one.
    • by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @09:36PM (#5805342)
      Let me put it this way:
      1. Voters are apathetic.
      2. Apathetic voters vote in a truly random fashion.
      3. E-voting (ignoring all the inherent problems of such a scheme) will only really draw new apathetic voters.
      4. With truly random apathetic votes, they will not have any real effect on the election results.
      5. Implementing e-voting is not cheap.
      I'm against e-voting because I don't see the point in spending money to change absolutely nothing.

      Of course, I'm also against the concept because it introduces unnecesary complecations into the voting process where problems can occur (why do you need Twenty-First Century technology to do something that Nineteenth Century technology can do just as well with less room for error?), but that's another subject.
  • by wumarkus420 (548138) <wumarkus AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday April 24, 2003 @03:35PM (#5802250) Homepage
    I can't believe the responses coming from these slashdotters! I have been a STRONG advocate for online voting for years and see it as the ONLY way to save our unbalanced voting system.

    In college, we successfully used an online voting system where the GREAT majority of votes were taken online. Not only had the percentage of votes been much higher than in years without online voting, but there was plenty of supplemental material to educate yourself on the votes beforehand.

    It seems like many of you are worried about stupid people making stupid votes - I disagree. I still think that the lazy voter who doesn't care won't even bother to do an online vote. I think that many people who either can't make it, are too busy, or just intimidated by the process of our current voting scheme are perfect candidates.

    So few in the US vote, it's rather sickening. I'm inclined to believe that if the percentage of eligible voters raised to even 60%, we would most likely never see a conservative in office again.
  • uh oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by mikeee (137160) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:07PM (#5802614)
    And the new Prime Minister of Britian is...

    Cowboy Neal!
  • by Kaz Riprock (590115) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:28PM (#5802901)

    Eh...who cares.
  • Exit Polling? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kaz Riprock (590115) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:30PM (#5802936)

    If you vote from home, then there's no exit polling. How is Peter Jennings going to tell California, Alaska, and Hawaii how to vote if he doesn't have the numbers from Maine, Florida, and New York in time??
  • Spam (Score:3, Funny)

    by ehiris (214677) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @04:58PM (#5803272) Homepage
    Imagine all the Spam this would generate. All the politicians would jump into your mailbox with messages like vote for me and get 3 extra inches overnight.

    ... And that's territorial inches you pervert.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#5803334) Journal
    Right now, most voting systems only allow you to say "yes".

    From anecdotal evidence there seems to be a significant number of eligible voters who can't bring themselves to say "yes" to any candidate. They don't feel like taking the trouble to go to a voting booth to say "yes" to the least disliked candidate, or going there and making a spoilt vote as a sign of their displeasure.

    I suggest that if voters could place a negative vote there would be less apathy.

    For example a "No" vote would subtract the total vote tally = -1 . "Don't care" = 0. "Yes" = +1. A net-unpopular candidate will have a negative score. If all candidates are in the negative, then maybe the least negative scored candidate should still win, but have a much shorter term (and not be able to credibly brag about having support of the majority :) ).

    Would you feel like voting then?

    You also get better information. A controversial candidate will have lots of Yes and No votes. You'd be able to have a clearer view of voter disatisfaction.

    But I'm sure politicians don't want this sort of thing, and so this is unlikely to happen.

    Oh well.
  • by Soong (7225) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @05:28PM (#5803612) Homepage Journal
    There are some wonderful things you can do with computerized voting, but if all I get to do is cast the same vote for the same tired parties then I may more easily overcome laziness, but I won't affect the outcome.

    If I expect that I won't affect the outcome, I become apathetic, and don't bother to vote.

    I could vote for a real candidate, more interesting than the two parties, but they won't get elected because only the two parties get elected and anything else is throwing my vote away. Why bother?

    Solution: Change the voting system to one that is fair for any number of candidates instead of the current one that reinforces duopoly.

    Acceptance Voting or Rated Voting should be implemented as soon as possible at all levels.

    See the URL in my sig
    http://bolson.org/voting/
    (yes, this is my little holy cause)
  • by CharlieG (34950) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @06:05PM (#5803947) Homepage
    For years I thought We'd be better off with smaller Government, but I really think the cure for our ills is a LARGER House of Reps! Right now, we have a bit over 622k people per Rep (271M /435) - Let's face it, your rep probably has never heard of you, and if you can afford $100, it's a drop in the bucket

    Now, the number of Reps has not changes since 1913, when they filled the room in the Capitol - No you really want to run a country based upon the size of a room?

    In 1776 the ratio was 1 Rep per 30k people - that means we would have 9033 Reps! I think this is a GOOD idea - It would be VERY hard for a company to BUY 4517 Reps, but your $100 bucks would start to be REAL money.

    In 2002, the House and Senate raised $604 Million in Campaign contributions, or $1.29 Million Per candidate (435 Reps, 33 Senate (Senate count an estimate - 1/3))

    Now, let's say we have 9033 Reps and 33 Senators up for election -for a total of 9066. Now if they only get the same amount of contributions, they average 66k each, so lets say they get more - $100k. Your $100 bucks speaks a LOT louder, and it starts to become possible for an individual to run their own campaign, particulary when you realize the big money goes to the 33 Senators - in fact, the average Incumbent Rep spent 500K and the Challenger about 100k - if you figure 1/20th, we talking 25K for an incumbent, and 5K for a challenger. That $100 starts to look like REAL cash
  • by Tazzy531 (456079) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @08:54PM (#5805119) Homepage
    Check out this site: Black Box Voting [blackboxvoting.com]

    With the rise of computerized voting systems, there follows a greater opportunity to cheat in elections. In the past election [for congress], voting districts started using computer voting systems. The problem with this is the lack of accountability. The voting machines are not open source [which in itself is not a problem]. However in the last election, there were a couple incidents in which the vendors "upgraded" [or modified] the code after it was inspected by the accounting people.

    In addition, in the last election, one of the candidate owned great number of shares in the voting machine production companies of his state. This is a great potential for conflict of interest.

    Lastly, hackers found that the binary files and certain voting data files were found on the company's public FTP site. It was improperly configured so that you can upload your own data files to overwrite the official ones.

    Anyways, until we get a more secured system that is more accountable, we should not jump into computerized voting.

    Read more about this at: Salon.com Hacking Democracy [salon.com]
  • by peter (3389) on Thursday April 24, 2003 @10:49PM (#5805679) Homepage
    More people might vote, but they'll still be the same people who don't care about it, and are more impressed by image than substance. Getting elected these days is more about showmanship than good ideas, integrity, or even politics. Money spent on advertising is _strongly_ correlated to election victory, which either indicates that advertizing works, or that people are more likely to vote for politician with rich allies. Given that political advertizing is all about image, and maybe some grandiose promises, it's a bad thing that people are so dependent on the ads they see to make their voting decisions. Online voting will make this worse, because now some of the people who don't care just don't bother voting at all. If they can vote online, they might be sitting at home watching TV, and see an ad (if ads are allowed to be shown during polling hours), or something about one of the candidates that makes them decide to vote for that person without knowing anything about what policies that candidate supports. After voting, they'll probably stop feeling guilty for not voting, like in the past, since they think they've done their civic duty just by voting. Of course, they haven't. They've diluted the vote of people who are familiar with the candidates. The media is a critical part of democracy, but biased media (check out FAIR [fair.org]) and flashy ads don't help.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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