Independent voters now account for approximately 40 percent of all voters in the United States. Following the national trend, California voters are increasingly leaving the two major parties, with almost 3.7 million voters now registered under “No Party Preference” in the state. Overall voter turnout, however, decreased in 2012 election, with one million fewer Californians casting a ballot in the general election than in previous presidential elections. With independent voters now accounting for 21 percent of the electorate in California, how can the state ensure their voices are heard in Sacramento? Assemblymember Philip Ting proposes exploring online voting with Assembly Bill 19, or the “Internet Voting Pilot Program.” Passed on April 23 by the California Assembly Elections Committee, AB 19 proposes to change the legal definition of “voting system” to include the use of systems connected to the Internet in future California elections. This would authorize the creation of an Internet Voting Pilot Program, under which counties could offer voters the choice to vote online.
… However, not all revolutions are good, Phillip Ung, from California Common Cause, said in a phone interview. He highlighted the threat online hacking would have on the integrity of elections:
“We do not believe that our elections and the integrity of our elections should be under that kind of threat by adopting a system that, for the most part, is untested. Even if it’s a pilot, it still counts real votes; it’s a real election.”
California Common Cause instead advocated for online voter registration and Election Day registration in California — both measures passed last year in California.
“We simply are not ready to make the jump into AB 19 as it’s written,” Ung added, a sentiment echoed by the California Internet Voting Task Force. In a 2000 report, the task force concluded that “the election process would be best served by a strategy of evolutionary rather than revolutionary change.” This suggests that a phase-in process would be necessary to ensure no errors become integrated into the system.