I can recall sending my first electronic mail across roughly four thousand miles to my step-father in the early 1990s. I received a reply shortly after. My personal reaction? It was much like the reaction of countless others. Amazement. Astonishment. Wonderment.
Although I have never claimed to be a visionary I realized at that moment that this new technology would dramatically change the course of history. More specifically I recognized that the Internet would eventually democratize the entire world.
I was also aware that this human milestone (once examined in retrospect) might even shadow the historical benchmark of landing of men on the moon. After all if one measures any technological achievement by the number of people that will be impacted “directly” then clearly the moon landing must come second to the invention we know as the Internet.
Sadly enough the Internet has a dark side we have become familiar with through the media and perhaps personal experience. There are countless examples of individuals using the Internet for nefarious and criminal purposes to the great detriment of others.
If we are able to set this aside for a moment we must conclude that the Internet (when used properly and guardedly by an informed and educated populace) is far from a bad deal for humankind.
How often have we heard politicians and others make claims that they govern by mandate and that they are only required to answer to their electorate every so many years? Clearly such a mindset rests on the halfway point between what we once had in ruling monarchs (and dictatorships) and the promise of what we will have in the near future.
Many suggest that it would be much too expensive or burdensome to govern by sending issues to the electorate in the form of referendum after referendum? Many have suggested that four and five year terms for leaders are still necessary to ensure the stability of modern democracies in developed nations. With recent positive developments in technology I would beg to differ.
The Internet we often turn to for both business and pleasure holds countless examples of polls that are posted on web page after web page offering people the opportunity to be heard. The issues range from the most political to the most trivial aspects of daily life.
The motivations of some pollsters are dubious at best. At times the wording of polls seems to “corral” voters in a certain predetermined direction. Other polls pose questions that are extremely trivial in a world with so many more important issues to be addressed. However such failures relate to those who chose to manipulate others for personal gain. Such irrelevant polls do not necessarily taint the value of the technology itself.
With the Internet now ingrained in the developed world we are in a position to examine the possibility of voting on many serious issues relating to government that were previously out of our realm. By this we will be in a position to decide on a daily basis how we will allow others to govern our future. Very shortly the masses of the world will be in the driver’s seat.
No longer will certain individuals be able to distort the truth with assertions that more regular elections would be far too expensive and inconvenient for all. The truth is that the new face of election reform is right beneath our noses in the form of Internet voting.
Of course there are certain individuals who stand to lose from this technological revolution. Such individuals would continue to have us believe that Internet voting will never be secure and therefore it should never be implemented. Never is a long time. Such notions are ludicrous and self serving. Where we can send people to the moon we can most certainly come up with a secure system of voting on the Internet.
I accept that the Internet is not currently secure for the purpose of voting. For example I am aware that one can vote repeatedly on the same web page poll by simply clearing their Internet browser cookies over and over again. I concede that there have been plenty of examples of voter fraud outside the realm of the Internet as well as voids in Internet and network security.
For this reason we need to take steps to implement secure voting systems and ensure that backups are conducted and confirmed to foster confidence in those voting systems. Eventually technological controls will minimize fraud and other similar violations.
Contrary to the western propaganda we often hear, the promise of “true” democracy has never existed anywhere in the world until now. By “true” democracy I am referring to “direct” democracy through the regular involvement of the electorate.
If ever there were instances of low voter turnout as a result of inclement weather or other similar factors we will now have the ability to vote from the comfort of our own homes. We are now in a position to ensure that our leaders will be held accountable for their campaign promises shortly after they are elected or they will face removal. They will also be held responsible for their decisions once elected.
This issue is especially important considering how often we have witnessed politicians legislate their own salary increases without the assent of their constituents. It is time we put such important issues to the electorate on a case by case basis. By this we can and we will change the world for the better.
We have just ushered in a new year (2009) and some are still suggesting that we must maintain the status quo. These folks fear what might happen if we make voting more convenient and efficient.
If “democracy” and “freedom” are more than just a couple of words that are frivolously tossed into the air like confetti on a wedding day (by an elite ruling few) then we stand to gain a great deal from this new technological order.
The only people who have any reason to fear secure Internet voting are those few manipulators who stand to lose the most as humankind moves relentlessly and rapidly towards real democracy throughout this world.Tags: democracy, freedom, govern, manipulators, true democracy