What about on-line voting or other new voting rules?

terr161069 asked this question on 11/28/2000:

I am writing a proposal argument and am in need of some information concerning voting statistics and methods.

1) I have heard that Oregon residents are mailed their ballots and are then have some time to look over their ballots and fill them out and mail them to the proper place in order to be counted. Are any precautions taken so that people are not able to raid random mail boxes and fill out ballots? Must Each person submit his/her social security number, maybe in order to prove that they are citizens of Oregon, and are in fact the person that the ballot was meant for?

2) I was also wondering if there were any instances in this years election in which some voting places were left open longer than intended because people were in line to vote? And are there laws concerning this?

3) I was also needing statistics maybe of how many people claim they are unable to vote due to work and long lines?

4) Also, what are the statistics of voting residents in Oregon due to their method of voting?

5) What are statistics for voting turnouts in other parts or the nation?

6) Exactly what happened with the elderly people in Florida who claimed to have been confused about the way in which their ballots were set up?

Thank you very much for your answers. They will really help me!

JesseGordon gave this response on 11/29/2000:

1) Yes, Oregon had a mail-in system for every voter this year. I'm not familiar with the details of precautions, but what you're addressing is how to make sure that the person mailing in the ballot is the person who registered. That can't be guaranteed, of course, but neither can we guarantee that someone won't claim to be me at the polling place either. So the security issue is really that mail-in voting is AS SECURE as polling-place voting. There's no reason to believe it is not, so the Oregon system may catch on elsewhere.
2) Yes, that was an issue in Missouri. A judge ordered the polls to stay open an hour longer in a Democratic neighborhood, and many Republicans complained that was illegal. Higher-than-expected turnout caused that problem in many states. In my state of Massachusetts, the governor announced early in the day that if you were on line at 8 PM, you would hget to vote no matter what the official closing time was.

3) I don't know of any statistics. They would only come out if there is a legal suit.

4) It certainly got MUCH higher voter turnout than expected, because it was much easier to do. You can see the vote counts in Oregon at . My quick math says that a total of 1,528,000 people voted in Oregon. The US Census estimates Oregon's population at 3,316,000, which means 2,351,000 adults. So that's a voter turnout of 65%, comapred to a national average of 52% using the same estimation methods.

5) The 52% figure is widely reported, and I express the 65% above in the same terms. I think that figure is misleading and should be broken down into two figures, which are: 62% of adult Americans registered to vote, and of those, 84% actually voted. The problem then becomes clearer that it's the difficulty of registering, not the fact of voting, that's the source of the low turnout.

6) Al Gore's name appeared second on the list, but to vote for him you had to punch the third hole. That's because Buchanan appeared in the right-hand column, pointing to the second hole. You can see a picture at which shows the problem -- but that issue has been pretty much dropped by Gore in the courts.

bmeisnitzer asked this question on 11/28/2000:

What would be the best way to implement a SECURE computerized voting system?

JesseGordon gave this response on 11/29/2000:

Secure, computerized voting systems WERE used in this election, bu tonly in the primaries., for example, sponsored a legally binding vote in the Alaska Republican Primary. A few dozen people availed themselves of the system, and there were no complaints about security.

The method is:
- The voter registers to vote like normal.
- The voter is given a security code in advance of voting on-line, if they want to do so.
- On election day, they put in the security code and then vote using the usual secure Internet methods.

So the security is two-fold: first, the usual Internet security that keeps the information from being tampered with after the person casts their vote. That's technical and fairly well established, and will be more so by 2002.

The second security is what people are concerned about: How to make sure that the person typing in the code number is the person who registered. That can't be guaranteed, of course, but neither can we guarantee that someone won't claim to be me at the polling place either. So the security issue is really that Internet voting is AS SECURE as polling-place voting.

There were several states that conducted Internet voting in the primaries this year. By 2002, I'd say, it will be well-established, and people will use it "for real" in the Congressional races then. By 2004, people will feel secure enough about it to use Internet voting in the presidential contest.

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