Last month, voter turnout was the lowest on record in California. There are lots of theories, according to last Sunday’s editorial “California’s election check? It’s in the mail,” but no one knows why more than half of registered voters didn’t cast a ballot for or against multibillion-dollar issues and state and local candidates.
Voting by mail is growing in popularity. Online voting seems the next logical step, but computer-security experts say today’s technology cannot prevent hackers from stealing an election. The incoming secretary of state promises to pull in 1 million new voters. So, what’s the answer?
Our questions to readers were: How would you prefer to vote? At standard polling places with paper ballots, with mail-in ballots or online? Which method would increase voter turnout?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Security not yet available for online voting
California’s record low turnout for November’s elections is indeed worrisome, and incoming Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s promises to increase the voter rolls are laudable. However, the editorial board’s desire to see online voting as the natural evolution of our voting systems is misplaced.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Yes, we do bank, shop and communicate online, but a quick review of the latest headlines proves these transactions aren’t secure. Cybercrime is estimated to cost businesses billions every year. Elections are unlike financial transactions because they’re extremely vulnerable to undetectable hacking.
Because we vote by secret ballot, there is no way to reconcile the votes recorded and the marks the voter actually makes with technology currently available. Unlike with retail transactions, we can’t call up county election offices and ask if our votes for a particular candidate were accurately recorded under our name. For this reason, the Department of Defense canceled an online voting trial project, and a top official from the Department of Homeland Security has warned against online voting.
Our democracy is founded in the confidence of our elections to correctly represent the will of the people. Let’s not allow good intentions to take us down an insecure path.
Pam Smith, Carlsbad
president of Verified Voting
president & founder,
California Voter Foundation
Expand vote-by-mail into national system
A national vote-by-mail system would give the voter ample time and flexibility to vote. It would alleviate voter disenfranchisement and problems at the polls. Regulations would be needed to prevent election officials from improperly dropping people from the voting rolls.
Instead of polling places, we can employ our trusted U.S. Postal Service to accept ballots on Election Day that would then be retrieved by elections officials. Dropped-off ballots must be stored in a locked vault – not just sitting on a counter at the county elections office.
To ensure the integrity of the election results, the vote tabulation would be published on the Internet. Every ballot would have a unique serial number, and a voter could insure their vote was counted and counted accurately.
Mark Mihevc, Graeagle
Rebecca McAlary – A national holiday on Election Day, for starters. A voting window three weeks long for online voting, and also for in-person voting. All schools open on Election Day to serve as polling places, and at those schools students volunteering to help train voters on any new voting equipment before escorting voters to the voting room. Getting school children involved in the process is key.
Siamese Dharma – Online voting is too insecure. If hackers can break into the websites of banks and the federal government, which have a very high motivation to keep them secure, hackers can surely break into websites set up to handle elections. I don’t think voting is too difficult at all in California. There are already people at polling places to show voters how to use the equipment. Curbside voting is available for the handicapped. Anyone in California can vote by mail without giving a reason.
Phineas Worthington – Which is least prone to fraud? I would think paper ballots.
De Aun Tollefson – Free postage for ballots wouldn’t hurt.
Patricia Giannini – No question, by mail! Convenience is key.
Laurie Beth Ferns – I prefer to vote at the polling place. I might vote online. I believe online voting would greatly increase turnout. My only concern with online voting would be fraud.
Eileen Sarasohn – We vote by mail because we travel a lot. I want to be sure that my vote is counted, because the importance of a single vote cannot be over emphasized.
Jeanne Mehallo – To reach millennials, online would be good.
Ivan Karpenko – Online (duh!)
Susan Peter-Thompson – They would have to do a lot to beef up Internet security before I would trust an online voting process.
Jenelle Johnson – Online would work best for me.