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Topic 3
The tightly contested elections of 2000 and 2004 have proven that the electoral system in the United States is in serious need of reform. One must be careful when taking on such a large task because there are many factors that have to be taken into consideration. Internet voting and electronic voting hold a lot of promise for future elections, but they have their downfalls. Risks associated with ballot secrecy, voter fraud, and fixing of elections must be eliminated before either should dominate the polls. Another question that should be approached is the necessity of the Electoral College.
Internet voting can be split into two subtypes: remote internet voting and polling place internet voting. (Loncke and Dumortier) Polling place internet voting has more promise than remote internet voting. Polling place internet voting would not require digital authentication of the voter because the verification can be done physically by election officials. Remote internet votThe tightly contested elections of 2000 and 2004 have proven that the electoral system in the United States is in serious need of reform. One must be careful when taking on such a large task because there are many factors that have to be taken into consideration. Internet voting and electronic voting hold a lot of promise for future elections, but they have their downfalls. Risks associated with ballot secrecy, voter fraud, and fixing of elections must be eliminated before either should dominate the polls. Another question that should be approached is the necessity of the Electoral College.
Internet voting can be split into two subtypes: remote internet voting and polling place internet voting. (Loncke and Dumortier) Polling place internet voting has more promise than remote internet voting. Polling place internet voting would not require digital authentication of the voter because the verification can be done physically by election officials. Remote internet voting poses too many risks to be a viable option. The main problem is that every voter would have to be authenticated, and yet have his or her association removed from the vote to keep it from being traced back. The biggest threat with remote internet voting is the vulnerability of the system. It would be much easier to commit voter fraud via the internet. No one would be there to verify that the person voting is the person who registered. The internet system is also vulnerable to hackers, who may or may not be from the United States. We have to think about whether itís worth the risk. When remote internet voting can be guaranteed secure, then it would be a great option for the elderly who may not be able to go out to the polls, the disabled, and could replace postal absentee voting.
Electronic voting machines have their setbacks as well. Diebold Inc., the leading manufacturer of voting machines in the US, has given 99.4% of its campaign contributions to the Republican candidates. Statistics such as that should raise an eyebrow or two. Electronic voting machines are relatively new to the poll scene. This becomes quite obvious when one reads about glitches in the machines such as: miscounted votes, pre-loaded votes, a miscast vote due to computer error, and machine malfunctions causing loss of votes. These pitfalls were investigated in Ohio, coincidentally the location of Diebold Inc.ís headquarters, due to scrutiny of the votes in the extremely close election. Many small towns in Ohio only had two or three voting machines for their 2-3 thousand voters. Several towns had incidents with one or more of the machines breaking down completely, while others had mysterious Ďmalfunctions;í these included deletion of votes cast for the presidency. A significant number of ballots had votes cast for members of congress, sheriffs, and county positions; but those same ballots were conspicuously blank when it came to the presidency. These machines just were not ready for use during the 2004 election. Itís possible that in the future, with unbiased and error-free machines that this may become the most viable and easily counted option for the polls.
The Electoral College was originally created by the founding fathers to protect the masses from their ignorance. It was believed that the majority of the middle and lower classes were not well educated enough to know what they needed to look for in a leader. When our country was founded the average American couldnít read or write well, if at all, nor was schooling top priority for the lower and middle class. Now the literacy rate is much higher, but increased literacy doesnít mean that Americans are any more schooled in politics than before. Many people vote on how attractive a candidate is, or one particular portion of their platform instead of analyzing everything the candidate stands for before casting their vote. Some say that the Electoral College keeps America from being too democratic. (Rackove) In cases such as the 2000 election, where the popular vote leaned toward Al Gore, the candidate with fewer electoral votes; many people felt that the electoral votes should be split between the two candidates. Unfortunately, that would undermine the whole electoral system. The question here is whether or not the whole system is obsolete. Judging from the political knowledge of the average American, the system is still needed. Even though it may not make sense at times, it still helps prevent the system from being too orderly and less complicated two things the founding fathers wanted to avoid. Revamping the electoral system is not out of the question, but would take considerable deliberation and many years before anything could be changed.
The electoral system is in dire need of reform as demonstrated by the 2000 and 2004 elections. New options for voting include electronic voting and polling place internet voting show promise, but arenít ready for widespread use as of yet. As for the necessity of the Electoral College, it still seems to be for the best. The founders of this country did not want an entirely democratic system, and the Electoral College keeps our elections in check.
Works Cited:

Loncke, Mieke and Dumortier, Jos. "Online Voting: A Legal Perspective." International Review of Law, Computers, & Technology 18.1 (2004): 59-79.

Rakove, Jack N. "Presidential Selection: Electoral Fallacies." Political Science Quarterly 119.1 (2004): p. 21-38.

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