Time, tech right for electronic voting

The timing has never been more right for online voting.

If you ask me, a futurist is often little more than a fortune teller with a library card.

Their opinions aren’t necessarily any more valid than anyone else’s, but the media tends to gravitate toward them because of the value we place on experience and education.

But often, their words are little more than wind.

So it was this morning, on my drive into work, when my jaw hit the floor as I was listening to the Bill Good Show on CKNW, where an “expert” was saying that introducing online voting won’t improve the voter turnout.

Really? Hmmm.

After analyzing his argument for about 0.5 seconds, I came up with very familiar examples of why he couldn’t be more wrong.

My rebuttal argument would centre around two points: people are inherently lazy and timing is everything for technology.

Firstly, people are really, really lazy (that includes me). Make it more convenient for them to do even the simplest of tasks, and that’s a winning idea.

Case in point: car technology. Yes, inserting your key into the ignition and turning is easy enough for starting a car, but that didn’t stop the introduction of the now commonplace push-button style, keyless car starter. And yes, closing your trunk takes little more than a flick of the wrist, but now people are buying the push-the-button-and-the-trunk-lid-will-close-all-by-itself option.

So it stands to reason that if you can build a secure electronic system, where voters are verified for their identities, and it’s easier than driving to the local school, parking, walking up to the voting room, getting in line to check your identification, going to the voting booth, and making your selection…then it stands a chance of being a winner.

Now this expert argued there are examples were electronic voting has been introduced elsewhere in the world, and hasn’t shown to increase voting.

And that’s where timing is everything for technology. And the timing has never been more right for online voting.

Long before the iPad became the computer tablet of choice for 60 million people—registering more than $40 billion in sales for tech-giant Apple in the last couple of years—another computer company introduced something very similar. Yes, Microsoft introduced the Tablet PC in 2000. You aren’t alone if you didn’t know that; that iteration failed miserably.

I’d say that with the current proliferation of smart phones, from iPhones to Blackberries to Android devices, and on-the-horizon technology that will replace all your bulky credit cards, and a smart phone application for nearly every task conceivable, the necessary infrastructure for electronic voting already exists.

Those tasked with creating the online voting option need to capitalize on this existing technological infrastructure.

Imagine our children, watching us as we vote simply by powering up our iPhone, opening the Voting app, using our FaceTime to verify our identities with our registered B.C. Driver’s Licence photo, and then making a few selections.

Making it simple and part of our routine will change the way the next generation views voting. Today, it’s more a chore than a right.

Making voting mandatory would be a natural next step. If everyone MUST vote, and nearly everyone has a smart phone…well, do I really need to connect the dots.