Iowa Democrats are mulling a slate of ways to boost participation in their next presidential caucuses, including permitting Internet voting, a controversial method that would mark the first time in history the web is utilized to cast an official ballot preference for president. Hawkeye State Democrats are in the midst of surveying how to most effectively expand access to those who would like to participate in the unique caucus process, but cannot due to residency or military service overseas or age or physical restrictions that keep them in hospitals and nursing homes. It could also enfranchise participation among blue-collar workers who have shifts during the evening hours when caucuses are held. … A co-chair of the committee noted that the DNC would likely need to amend the existing rule to permit caucus states to exercise the Internet option. Currently the existing rule only applies to party-run state primaries. “I didn’t even know the damn thing was there,” remarked DNC committeeman Harold Ickes about the Internet option. The remark prompted laughter in the ballroom, but the implications of online voting would be serious.
Risks include the potential for hacking and fraud, in addition to the inevitable technical hurdles and snafus. A close contest decided by a few hundred or thousand votes could further complicate certifying the result. How to decide who exactly is allowed to participate via the web could also become a cumbersome process.
Elaine Kamarck, a DNC member from Massachusetts, expressed doubts about allowing select caucusgoers to simply point and click. “I can’t quite see how Internet voting is going to apply to a traditional caucus state,” Kamarck said. When the Iowa caucuses occur, “it’ll be 3 a.m. in Afghanistan,” she added, laying out a possible logistical pitfall.