Opinion: Technology can improve the voting process

Citizenship is to be valued and honored. American citizenship allows you the right to live and work in the country, and, most importantly, to participate in political life.

As a citizen of the United States you are required to abide by laws set forth by the government and pay taxes to help support the communities, states, and country in which you live.

In return, you have access to the services our government provides as well as the right to vote in elections. Voting allows you to send a direct message to our government about the direction you want the country to take and how you want to be governed.

As I see it, voting is the basis of our democracy. As our nation has grown and evolved to be a global player in the world and, unfortunately, further divided, we need to be concerned about the vulnerability of our voting system to corruption and manipulation.

Alleviating voter fraud while increasing legitimate voter turnout are two issues that have become increasingly important to our country as we try to preserve the integrity of voting as a pure representation of the true wishes of our citizenry.

Voter fraud does exist and according to the Heritage Foundation, an institution known for conservative values, they have proven 1,132 cases of voter fraud impacting elections in 47 states and across all levels of government. Another study done by the Pew Research Center reveals the following:

·  Approximately 24 million or one in every eight voter registrations in the US are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate

· More that 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters

· Approximately 2.75 million people are registered to vote in more than one state

· Researchers estimate that 51 million eligible voters are not registered

Some of the most common types of voter fraud occurs when voters mail in absentee ballots for relatives who are deceased or have moved. People falsify registration with stolen information and IDs. Political parties, unions, and special interest groups manipulate applications and ballots for employees, non-citizens, and the elderly.

The states’ different requirements can allow loopholes for voter fraud as well. For example, New Hampshire only requires that you be domiciled, but not a resident which means “out-of-staters” can vote there.

Our voting process is outdated, fraught with human error, inconsistent between states and unprotected from on-going technology attacks.

Our slow, paper-based system of registration leaves lots of room for error as information often gets entered incorrectly or incompletely.

With the mobility of our society, the system is maintained by human struggles to keep the voter information current and readily accessible to the polling officials. Also, the cost of manpower and supplies it takes to manage this process is very expensive. According to Pew Research Center, state’s costs to maintain a voter list are 12 times higher than in Canada.

With 21st century technology available, I see no reason why we shouldn’t have the ability to access accurate information in order to verify a person’s citizenship status or just to provide the information necessary to register to vote.

The use of advanced technology (which could be more cost effective) could make it easier for us to attract more voters to the polls, while reducing voter fraud and allowing us to maintain and preserve the purity of “one citizen, one vote,” the legitimacy of all our citizens, and the process that makes us the shining beacon on the hill for democracy.

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