Sunday, March 27, 2016

Voting in the US election

The Democratic primary election in Arizona was a disaster. Some voters had to wait in line for 5 hours before they are allowed to vote. Many gave up due to the long queue. There were also disputes regarding who were eligible to vote. On the other hand, many people were allowed to vote early by sending in postal votes.

These situations raise some interesting questions:

a) How do the election commission check on the authenticity of the postal votes?
b) Was it possible for another person to steal the voting paper and submit an unauthorized vote?
c) How do the election commission check that the same voter did not submit more than one vote by using duplicate ballot papers?
d) For people who vote in person, there has to be a way to verify who is eligible to vote and that this person did not vote many times?

The big question is - why does the election commission not move to the world of the Internet? This is how the election process can be managed.

1) All eligible voters are registered in a big database with their social security ID and the electoral district that they belong to.
2) They are given a unique password.
3) They sign in with their social security ID and password and submit their vote. They are allowed to vote at any time within the election period. It could be over several days.
4) Those who forget their password can visit any election center with their identification. The voting official can verify their identity and issue them with replacement passwords that they can use to vote.
5) If any person found that another person has stolen his identity and submitted a vote, the earlier vote can be deleted and a new vote entered.
6) The system can have safeguards to prevent unauthorized changes to the votes in the database.

With such a system in place, it is possible to count the votes quite quickly. It is also possible to have votes for many positions on the general election day, e.g. to vote for the President, members of Congress, state governors, members of state congress etc. The counting will be accurate and fast.

My question - why was the election commission not using the Internet system?

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