"But I Wanted to Vote for Obama!"
On an episode of "The Simpsons" a few months back, Homer walks into the electronic voting booth. He attempts to vote for Barack Obama, but the speaker spits out, "One vote for John McCain." Frustrated, Homer tries again. Again, the vote registers as one for McCain. And in the midst of recounts and debates on every aspect of the voting process, it's hard not to wonder where we're going.
Paper votes can get thrown out. Automatic machines can be rigged or can malfunction. As conspiracy-theorist as it may sound, there's probably no way to make sure that 100 percent of the correctly cast ballots will be counted. Some of the proposals considered to help get the nation out of sticky spots are rather well thought-out - instant run-off voting is one of them. If that were the case here in Minnesota, we probably would have been spared this ongoing Senate battle. And any disenfranchised Dean Barkley voters would have their second choice vote - Franken or Coleman - really count.
However, some of the solutions offered are inane... like voting on the Internet. Something which has been proven time-and-again to be one of the easiest things to hack into, and some people want to leave something as important as elections to that. It also brings up interesting questions about the digital divide - exactly how many people would be able to vote if it was online only? And if it was a melding of the two, what's to stop someone from voting several times at public computers, home computers, friends' computers, and finally in person? Any final solution will probably more of a realization than anything else: nothing is perfect, but there are ways of being fairly accurate. And an online poll isn't one of them.