by Gary Beach

Dealing with Opposition to E-Voting

Nov 01, 20003 mins
IT Leadership

Nothing scares politicians more than the unknown. Last year as I was advocating that the Internet be used as a medium for casting votes, I met in Washington, D.C., with a senior staffer for a prominent member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

While this person agreed it was a disgrace that nearly 60 percent of Americans do not vote in general or in midterm elections, he was unreceptive to new ideas—such as e-voting—as a way to reach out to the nonvoting public.

Surprisingly, his opposition was not rooted in the technical and security issues surrounding using the Internet as a voting channel. Rather, he opposed e-voting because it represented the unknown.

Political parties spend lots of time and money figuring out the preferences of the vocal, voting minority. The specter of ascertaining, for example, the hot buttons for the millions of 19- to 24-year-olds, many of whom will be eligible to vote for the first time this November, scares politicians to death. This constituency block—obviously comfortable with using the Internet as a voting booth—represents the unknown.

For some, it seems democracy is easier to manage when fewer people participate in it.

Here’s a prediction: The next president of the United States will be the candidate who most successfully captures the hearts and minds of the unknown—namely independent voters.

“Duh, that’s fairly obvious,” I hear readers saying in unison. No argument here. Instead, a bit of history. The best-known independent voting block in the 1996 presidential election was “soccer moms.” On Nov. 7, these sports obsessed, SUV-driving soccer moms will be pushed off the political playing field by yet another difficult to read, independent voting group. A group, in fact, you may know well, because you are a member of it.

Yes, a number of prominent pollsters claim that the swing voting block will be you and your peers—the so-called “wired workers.” Typically, wired workers are technophiles living in suburbia with hearts favoring Democrats and wallets favoring Republicans. Hence, the political quandary.

As CIOs, you can play a major role next week in deciding the presidential election.

Yes, of course, you can flex your political muscle by making sure that you cast a vote. But, more important, by distributing this column to the thousands of IS workers on your staff and encouraging them to do likewise.

The choice is yours. Make the most of it.