Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Internet Voting Revisited: It Could Go Viral

Quite some time ago I wrote a post on internet voting and it generated quite a bit of impassioned response, in great part on some of the computing discussion groups I cross-posted to. Computer scientists have some very strong opinions on internet voting.

Whatever you think of it personally or technologically, it looks like internet voting is coming. There is a really interesting new grassroots movement afoot. It reminds me (and probably will you too) of how the internet was first used to make one primary political campaign go viral (Howard Dean anyone?) - and now virtually all serious politicians recognize that the internet cannot be ignored if they want to win an election. Some use it more effectively than others, but no one brushes it off anymore as only for the "fringe".

There is a group called Americans Elect 2012 that is setting up an online voting system for the 2012 presidential primary so that people across the United States can pick the issues that matter to them and the people they wish to nominate. I heard an interview last night on the PBS NewsHour with 2 of the principals and it is very interesting - non partisan, and sounds like they are going full steam ahead with harnessing computing and the internet to get around the gridlock of our current political election system.

The group already has a presence in all 50 states and is working through the complex process, that varies state by state, of when and how they are legally permitted to operate.

Their system is in Beta, and you can check it out. The site I'm about to link you to includes, among other things, interview snippets with people from 5 states - people on the streets.

Technologically, what is cool about this is that it could very well work. They have apparently thought out how to harness the internet and to address what people are really upset about (according to national polls that were discussed on the news spot last night). The organization is not letting itself get tangled up in theoretical or philosophical or technical discussions about whether or not internet based voting is feasible, or a good idea - they are doing it.

Here they are: Americans Elect 2012

If this effort takes off, it could radically change politics as we know it. What do you think????

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