The Senator’s Vote

Estonia has had Internet voting for more than ten years. Using a national ID card, Estonian citizens can vote privately and securely. The voting system has proven to be secure, but the country is about to unleash an update to make it even more secure and end-to-end verifiable. This update should satisfy some of the world’s experts who have continuously criticized Internet voting.

In the U.S., we are paralyzed. The words Russia or hacking scare voting officials even though the risks are mostly theorhetical. Policymakers and experts want to compare Internet voting to a perfect system we will never have. They refuse to compare it to the flawed paper-based system we have today. One hundred million people who could have voted in 2012 and 2016 did not vote because of difficulty in getting to the polls.

We are so paralyzed about voting technology, the Senate Majority Leader postponed voting on healthcare legislation because one important senator could not vote for medical reasons. In order for a senator’s vote to count, the senator has to be in Washington on the floor of the Senate. Think about the billions of decisions made everyday by consumers, businesses, and many arms of the government.

The press coverage about the senator’s situation and inability to vote has been 100% political. I have not seen one question about why it is the senator cannot cast his vote electronically. For that matter, by telephone with witnesses. This would not address the 100 million people who did not vote, just one. The other reason why the medical issue stops things is the senator has to be “on the floor” to “manage the voting process”. We can do much better.

I am not making a political statement with this issue, but merely the process which works the same way it worked 100+ years ago. Computer scientists across the country have accomplished extraordinary developments in cloud computing, analytics for big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and an inter-planetary Internet. All of these areas faced skeptics and critics who said, “It couldn’t be done”. I believe working with election officials, voting machine vendors, computer scientists, and software engineers we can solve the challenges and complexities of Internet voting. As a result, Americans could be proud of a stronger democracy with the highest voter participation in the world. We certainly could do it for one senator who is temporarily unable to get to Washington.

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Originally published at www.attitudellc.org on July 18, 2017.

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