Recently I was contacted by a super-group of concerned citizens about California Senate Bill 397 (Yee). The bill would enable online voter registration.
This coalition of groups (that I have the greatest respect for) asked me to sign a petition in favor of the bill. The first two paragraphs of their letter are copied below:
"In todayís fast-paced world with most of us squeezed for time, many of us are on the lookout for the fastest way to accomplish the tasks in our day-to-day lives. The internet has helped by becoming an important tool that allows busy people and those with restricted mobility to do everything from paying bills to registering for college courses."
"So why canít one of our most important civic duties -- registering to vote -- be taken care of online?"
I appreciate their invitation, but I am not going to sign the petition. I briefly wanted to tell you why.
I am not that much against online voter registration; however, I am VERY MUCH against VOTING online.
I am FOR any and all means reasonably required to ensure free and fair elections: voting is a sacred act in this country (thousands have died in the last decade in foreign wars to prove that point - if no other). However, electronic VOTING cries out for subterfuge, fraud, and abuse. Paper ballots are no guarantee, but they do make fraud just that much more difficult.
Many people on election nights are keen to find out the winner as soon as possible. This is manifested by the thousands of news organizations willing to "predict" the outcome as soon as possible - even if their predictions are wrong (e.g. "Dewey beats Truman"). This has been true for the last hundred years at least; ever since we acquired rapid telecommunication (telegraph, etc).
I am much more keen to know that our institutions have taken the time necessary to ensure the truth and accuracy of elections, however long that might be.
I fear that the people's lust for instant news/results will eventually lull them into online voting, and I want to put off that temptation for as long as possible (my lifetime would be just long enough).
I am most definitely not a Luddite: I enjoy and use computers for many things every day, and have been doing so for decades. But I do believe that voting is something we need to respect and protect INSIDE this country, and that for our own lives, liberty, and self-respect we should VOTE with a deliberate speed.
It is no giant step from online registration to online voting.
Yes, I am being paranoid, but that does not make me wrong.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" Thomas Jefferson
Thanks for your time.
Alan Whitehorn - member of the Democratic Party