Report: Internet may entice more to vote

The Internet may facilitate voter registration and raise participation in state and national elections, according to a report released April 11.

The report, "Internet Voting: Bringing Elections to the Desktop," which was funded by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government, examines the 2000 Arizona Democratic presidential primary, the first political election to use Internet voting, according to PwC.

More votes were cast on the Internet in the primary than by other means, and the number of votes cast were triple those made in the state's 1996 presidential primary, according to report author Robert Done, assistant research professor of management and policy at the University of Arizona.

A related sample survey conducted by the University of Arizona suggested that 62 percent of the unregistered voting age population would register to vote on the Internet, Done said.

Done recommends that state and local jurisdictions keep experimenting with Internet voting, increase research and development to improve Internet transaction security and continue research on the individual and societal effects of an Internet voting system.

The opportunities to improve voter registration and participation are accompanied by complex technical, legal and social issues, according to voting experts. Internet voting also has faced challenges over whether it is discriminatory because some minorities or groups of people may not have Internet access.

Because many of these issues were addressed successfully in Arizona's democratic primary, Done is optimistic they can be resolved in the future.

New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers established the Endowment for the Business of Government in 1998. It seeks to advance knowledge on how to improve public-sector effectiveness and focuses on the future of government operation and management.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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