Recently, I received an e-mail alerting me this year’s elections to the American Mathematical Society Committee and reminding me that I can vote by postal ballot or over the internet. I vote in these elections each year and voted over the internet in their elections in 2006 for the first time.
I suspect that many organisations allow their members to vote over the internet in their internal elections and I wonder whether voting over the internet will become an option in Australian federal, state and local elections and referenda in the near future?
Let’s assume that security issues associated with voting over the internet can be satisfactorily dealt with. (Yes, we have all heard about problems associated with electronic voting in the United States.) Would political parties then legislate to change the voting system so much as to allow people to vote away from a polling booth on a single Saturday?
Many people already vote away from a polling booth on a single day via postal or absentee voting. However, most votes are still cast on polling day at the polling booths in each electorate. The dynamics of election advertising and vote counting would change if many people voted over the internet – there would probably be a marked drop in the numbers of people voting at polling booths, especially in the inner parts of capital cities, and there would no doubt be a window of a few weeks during which people could vote over the internet. This would make the impact of election advertising less predictable, especially if people were not able to change their vote once they had voted.
People should have the greatest freedom in casting their votes and should be allowed to change their internet votes up until 6pm on election nights. This would make election campaigns more dynamics and interesting. Internet voting would make elections less prone to last minute surges, as many people would have voted in the weeks leading up to the election and not all of them would resubmit their vote on election day.
I wonder how internet voting would affect the cost of holding an election?