After the mid-term elections wrapped last night, we are left with a few questions.  Not only did we see a wave of change in the House of Representatives, but a few ballot measures passed that are sure to raise a few eyebrows.  However, these elections were not without more than a few snafus at polling places.  There have been several cases of voters claiming that who they selected was not what box was checked on the computer, that the computers are fixed by unions, and even an argument in New York between polling judges.  However, could we avoid all this trouble with text or e-voting?  It works for American Idol, why not for elections?

Could We Vote By Text Message? 

Currently, 23 states don’t require a record of votes kept in print format.  Why not further embrace technology?  Currently you can do most anything from your cell phone from transferring bank balances, to buying items, to finding polling places through a simple text message.  Most reality TV programs include some form of text-in to vote for your favorite/win a prize/tell us what you think.  Why couldn’t we do this for our elections?  This would allow people to vote when they have free time, in the privacy of their own home or office, and could cut down on claims of fraud.

Currently, there is infrastructure in place that would allow people to vote online.  Almost every phone sold today has the ability to send a text message.  Sponsoring free text messaging for elections would be cost efficient.  Think about it, no need for polling places, pollsters, etc.  However, voting by text message could be a little bit tricky.

Problems With Texting In Votes

The main problem with texting in a vote would be voter registration.  Would we require each person to give a cell phone number that they would use to vote?  What about those without cellular phones, they would need some way to vote.  Perhaps allowing people to vote by text or online could solve this problem.  People without a computer or cell phone could go to a library where there is free internet access.  However, having to go to the library could remove some of the privacy that could be obtained through texting in your vote.

Benefits

Not only would we be able to save money by not needing polling places, but disputes about what is appropriate to wear to vote (whether it is a button, shirt, hat etc. for a certain candidate), whether you need to show ID to vote (which some claim is intimidating to some minorities), and other venues for voter intimidation.  Is this a silver bullet?  Absolutely not, there are issues related to privacy and registration.  Is this a step in the right direction?  You tell us.

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