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It's 2020, time for digital democracy

The stereotypical gaggle of blue-haired old ladies counting ballots in smoke-filled school basements is well past antiquated. We have the ability to send rockets past the edges of our solar system and land and operate a vehicle on a planet 56 million miles away, so we obviously possess the technology to upgrade our voting system into the 21st century. But no. Casting your vote in the current environment is similar to nervously taking the SATs back in the early '80s. I can still hear my high school English teacher sheepishly insist, "Please remember to bring two #2 pencils when taking the test, and make sure you fill in the circle completely."

Governor Ned Lamont should make it a priority to seek out and hire a Connecticut-based company that can develop a system where casting a November ballot would be similar to withdrawing cash from an ATM. Counting paper ballots, missing ballots, wet ballots, and dead folks showing up on rolls are a few examples of an archaic, clumsy enterprise that has undermined confidence in the entire voting operation. With some mental moxie and a little elbow grease, we can send the current system back to the Stone Age and maybe sell all the bubble-based machines to some third world country on the edge of anticipated freedom.

Money talks and there's a variety of ways to move currency and, on average, the U.S. Treasury electronically handles about $5 trillion per day — or approximately $1.25 quadrillion dollars a year. Money is transferred via the internet with virtually complete consumer certainty. Credit card transactions, bank wires, and online bill payments are just the tip of this monstrous iceberg. We trust our finances to the new age of digital excellence; we should trust our voting to similar applied sciences.

In order to be eligible to vote every Nutmeg resident would be required to obtain a Connecticut-issued photo voter ID Card complete with your personalized magnetic strip on the back, this would coincide with the development of a touch-screen voting kiosk that has the high tech capability to read a chipped or magnetic card. These machines would have the ability to instantly tabulate your vote and store it within the system while printing a paper record to be used in disputes or for the rare occurrences of mechanical inaccuracies. As a voter, you’d simply show your ID to gain access to the kiosk, insert your card, punch in your password, and vote. This would end the tedious check-in process and replace it with a more secure system. The machine could even print out your receipt and thank you for being a patriotic American.

Races would be officially tabulated within minutes after polls close, ending partisan-driven speculations that mischief and unscrupulous activities reign when the physical ballot-counting begins. If any election is within 1 percentage point, have an automatic paper ballot recount. Guesswork is removed and replaced with 2020 technology. It seems like an easy logical leap into the not-so-distant future.

Ego prevented me from accepting this, but I’m not the first person to conjure up this idea. Twenty-seven states currently use some variation of this concept. According to Ballotpedia: “Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems … employ computers that record votes directly into the computers' memory. These interfaces may incorporate touchscreens, dials, or mechanical buttons. The voter's choices are stored by the computer on a cartridge or hard drive. Some DRE systems are also equipped with a printer, which the voter may use to confirm his or her choices before committing them to the computer's memory. The paper records can be preserved to be tabulated in case of an audit or recount.”

Why don't we do this?

If every state adopted this method, theoretically you could be on vacation in Tucson, vote from an Arizona polling station, and have your vote cast electronically in Connecticut. This would be the end of the bulky ambiguity of requesting and mailing absentee ballots. Only people who plan to be out of the country, including military members or individuals who are physically unable to get to a polling location, would receive a waiver and be allowed to vote absentee.

For once let's be proactive instead of reactive and embrace this brave new world of technology and finally upgrade and modernize our voting methods.

Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.

 

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