The world of politics is changing dramatically. A few years ago, the notion of voting online was a dream. Now, it is becoming a reality. Universities are holding student elections online. Corporations are now using online voting to conduct shareholder meetings. In a few nations such as Canada, Estonia and Switzerland, online voting conducted by governments in official elections is becoming routine. Online voting is not common in the United States. The Reform Party selected its presidential candidate through online voting in 1996. The Democratic Party in Arizona held an online primary election in 2000. Some states have experimented with online voting for military personnel overseas. Those are rare exceptions. Why is online voting still a distant prospect? Security! Experiments of online voting systems have found them susceptible to hacking, which has made governments cautious about using them to determine electoral outcomes.
A related issue is identifying the individual voter as that unique voter. When the Internet was new, the New Yorker published a cartoon of a dog sitting at a keyboard and monitor saying to another dog: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” That humor speaks to a real problem: How does the system identify you as the actual voter? What stops someone else from voting as if they were you?
Estonia handles that problem with a national identity card that voters use to vote. But Americans have been resistant to the idea of a national ID card. Will they be willing to accept one so they can vote online? That is an open question.