At first glance, the success and easiness of e-commerce seems like it should translate to e-voting. However, voting does not directly correlate to online commerce because there are different reasons for commerce and voting. The capital world wants and benefits from everyone having access to commerce because this means that businesses can pull in money from basically anywhere and anyone with Internet access. On the other hand, the government does not necessarily want everyone to have voting power. Even though the Constitution states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Amendment XV, Section 1), the struggle for equal voting power still exists. Felons have voting powers in different states. Some states allow criminals to vote from prison, while others do not. Similarly, some states allow convicts to vote after they have completed their sentence, while other states make it harder for them to vote. If voting was online, states would have to explicitly state the restrictions they put on felons and other groups of people.
The issue of anonymity would also have to be considered with online voting. Each eligible person has one, anonymous vote. This means that everyone would have to have a unique ID to identify that they voted, but their actual vote should not be able to be tied back to them easily through another human. People would also have to have the ability to continuously change their vote until the last possible moment. Online voting would most likely increase accessibility to voting. This would also probably increase voting participation which would hopefully put leaders into office that represent common views throughout their demographic.
Currently, even though online voting is not prevalent, we can still see the effects of the Internet on a political campaign as especially highlighted in the past election. As we’ve discussed in previous sections, targeted advertising is a powerful online tool of subliminal messaging that has become widespread on the Internet. Targeted ads for campaigns during the past presidential season were frequent. Each campaign would attack the other, which actually increased the press circulating about the campaign that was attacked, confirming the affirmation that “any press is good press.” This led to an interesting discussion in class about targeted advertising.
Currently, online advertisements are not clearly marked as ads. This creates questions whether these ads break ethics violations or not. Is this something that we leave up to the consumer to decipher for themselves? Or should a private or public organization be in charge of marking each ad as an ad. This would be similar to the relationship between the FDA, a consumer, and food. However, creating a regulatory filter for news and ads allows for a very 1984-esque situation to occur where the government or another organization can shape what the public sees and trusts. Today, we can already see trust issues regarding the press and other online sources. Asking people who they trust is not an easy question to answer. Perhaps this discussion regarding “fake news” and truth in media is good to occur because we should not necessarily blindly trust one source. We should be more aware of who and what we trust and how we acquire our knowledge that we believe to be true.
One thought on “Voting in the Age of the Internet”
A nice set of thoughts…
There is considerable discussion as to on-line voting. While the contents of the vote should be private, it is less clear that voting requires anonymity (in fact, you generally have to identify yourself to vote). How you vote shouldn’t be something you can show or prove; this is as much to keep people from selling their votes as to keep it private. But there are also some who say that you should be able to identify your vote so you can be sure that your vote was counted. There are ways of doing this on-line that aren’t possible using current voting mechanisms.
One of the interesting questions when talking about voting is what the goal is. We want everyone who is qualified and wants to vote to be able to do so, and we would like to be able to see that our vote was counted, but we also want to make sure that no one else can see how we vote. When we start adding other goals, things get complex fast.