Internet voting an 'inevitability,' according to experts

Photo: Jay Westcott

From shopping to dating to booking travel and a litany of other things, nearly everything you need to get done in life can now be done through the Internet. One notable omission, though, is voting, but experts at a Capitol Hill hearing held earlier this week think that's inevitable.

According to the Maryland Reporter, several leading election experts who participated in a panel held by the University of Maryland Center of American Politics and Citizenship think that not only is Internet voting for major elections on its way, but some also believe that it will lead to higher turnouts.

"There is a big social difference in the way that we govern ourselves," Dave Mason, a former Federal Election Commission commissioner, said at the hearing. "It will change the nature of voter appeal, the kinds of appeals that we make towards voters when they make the decision at their computer.

Bob Carey, the former director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, added that Internet voting would allow easier access to elections for military members who are serving overseas.

Carey said that more than 200,000 military voters would have participated in the 2010 election had the process been easier.

"I've been out at sea. It takes two, three, four weeks to get a letter," Carey said. We always had Internet access. We have printers on board. We can easily get those ballots out there."

However, the Reporter points out that Internet balloting, as with any sensitive information, could pose a security and fraud risks. It's something that Carey and Mason both say shouldn't be an impediment, though.

Mason said that the biggest threat likely wouldn't come from hackers but from how easy it would be to influence or pay off people to vote a certain way.

Carey specifically pointed to the use of Virtual Private Networks as a way to safeguard against potential election malfeasance.

"Can someone hack into a VPN? Sure," he said. "Can they hack into a VPN without being detected? Virtually impossible."