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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Internet voting has a dark side as well

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Just like a number of readers, I'm no whiz on the electronic superhighway. I have yet to master the Internet other than the fundamentals and even those pose a challenge far too often. Now don't get the wrong - I recognize that the electronic age is upon us and it clearly won't be going away anytime soon. But perhaps sometimes technology surpasses our ability to control our society and when that occurs, something will surely go wrong.

There's an "experiment" under way to permit some limited Internet voting in next year's presidential primaries and general election. At this early stage, the plan may include about 100,000 voters depending on the technical aspects that are being developed. So let's say - for argument's sake - that the "experiment" works. In 2008, when Hillary is in full bloom, we could see an explosion in the movement to permit Internet voting. And that, my friends, opens to door to more problems than you can imagine. In fact, it's downright frightening.

I have one foot in the past and one balanced delicately in the present. I dare not step too far into the future because that becomes the unknown. And in the world of technology, it's pure blind faith to put our fortunes in the hands of Internet voting. I can accept registering to vote with this new technology. But to depend on the electronic gurus to assure all votes are cast and cast correctly brings memories of Florida multiplied 10-fold.

My kids would laugh at the notion of my concerns in this arena. But maybe my lament is well-founded. I know there exists those who would go to any lengths to impact the outcome of an election - in fact it happens all the time. Combine that hint of larceny with new technology and the field is ripe for the pickin'.

Sure, my thoughts and my ways are outdated perhaps. But the prospect of voter fraud in an area where the public has limited knowledge and less understanding is a scary notion at best. And you can clearly predict the cries of "foul" when the first glitch develops. And it will develop.

Technology is indeed a wonderful, mind-boggling thing. Advances in all areas have improved our lives, increased our lifespans and shrunk our little world. But we must accept the dark side of technology. That side puts all of the answers in very few hands. And that alone should be pause for concern.

I am obviously concerned that Internet voting will open up a can of worms unlike any we've seen in our republic. But were I a betting man, I'd say there is little prospect that we can slow down the wheels of technology that grind on day after day. Maybe, just maybe, the last area that should be used for an "experiment" is the singular process that makes this country so great. The right to vote and the assurance that your vote will count is far too important to allow any cloud to darken those skies. Internet voting sounds good on paper.

But that's where it should remain - on paper, awaiting the time when we can all be assured it will work fairly, accurately and without any prospect of fraud. We're not there yet.

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