Essays from Alaska

College student
Born: 1981
Essay themes: Internet voting

Young people make up a very large portion of the voting aged community in America. Because young people are not as active in their right to vote as they could be, the number of people showing up at the polls to vote has been decreasing over the past several decades. Inconvenience of location or time of day, lack of information, and the feeling that one vote won't count can and do influence people not to vote. With the advances in technology that have come about during the past several decades, there are many ways we could improve the voting process making it easier and more accessible to all people, especially young people.

Many young Americans attend college outside of their home state. The only way these students can participate in their local and state elections is by voting absentee, which involves filling out a mail in ballot and having the envelope notarized. This process, although simple on paper, can be difficult for someone living as busy a life as a college student usually does. Deadlines creep up for papers quickly and the envelope waiting to be taken to a notary is easy to forget about when rushing out the door to go to class. The Internet offers an easy way to transmit information quickly and painlessly. After some experimentation with electronic ballots, this would be an easy way for a busy college student to vote any time of day or night from the comfort of his/her dorm room or computer lab without having to track down a stamp or a notary.

Voting absentee has one other drawback for the out-of-state college student: Information about issues or candidates in your home state may not be as easily accessed from school as they are at home. Advertisements so prevalent on radio and TV during election times which are meant to inform and persuade (but tend to annoy) the public about upcoming elections go unseen by the out-of-state student. If informational booklets are not mailed with the ballot, the only way for these young voters to gather information is to actively go and seek it. This presents yet another inconvenience which makes it less than easy to vote. Once again, the Internet is an easy way to transmit information and also to view it. If even general information were provided in one place on the Internet it would make it easier to research issues and candidates further giving all voters a better chance of casting an informed vote.

The most common excuse for not voting from all age groups I have heard is that "one vote won't make a difference". The current method of counting votes can sometimes make this true. Because of plurality laws, a winning candidate does not need a majority vote to win. This means that in elections involving three or more candidates, representatives are often elected by a minority of the voting public. Implementing instant runoff voting would ensure that the majority of voters are represented by their candidate of choice by giving voters the option to fill in a second, third, fourth, etc. choice. If no candidate had a majority of the first choice votes, the candidate receiving the fewest first choice votes would be eliminated and all ballots with him/her as first choice would be counted using the second choice. The process of counting and eliminating would continue until one candidate had a majority of the votes. By using the instant runoff voting system each vote would count in every election. There are obviously some changes that need to be made in our system of voting if we want the young people of America to become responsible, regular voters. Some of these changes may be made by making it easier to vote absentee, possibly by using the Internet as a portable poll. Others need to be made in the laws governing how the votes are counted. Each person should be able to vote easily, information about issues and candidates should be easily accessible to everyone, and every vote should count. There are some changes to be made...let's make them!