Seattle Times Editorial Features Everyone Counts

Casting ballots through an online system will benefit voters and the democratic process. With security concerns sorted out, this transition should take place as soon as possible.

Seattle Times Editorial

Originally published Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A recent survey released by King County Elections found that a majority of county citizens under 45 favor a move to online voting.

Younger voters and others who move often are frequently disenfranchised because their addresses aren't as stable as those in other populations. For them, the advent of online voting can't come soon enough.

Officials and private companies working on online-voting technology should work to implement an online-voting system as an option as soon as possible.

Washington has taken steps to make voting more accessible to a more mobile generation by allowing online voter registration.

Security concerns are the biggest problem. The Washington Secretary of State's Office says that it is ready to implement online voting, "whenever secure technology becomes available."

But in a world where banking, medical records, air-traffic control and voter registration all occur online with relative ease and security, it can be done.

Lori Steele, CEO of Everyone Counts, a company developing online-voting technology, says her company's product already meets security requirements and has been used in major elections.

"[We have] military-grade encryption on each ballot and the e-ballot box that can provide a greater amount of security in elections than we've ever had before," Steele said.

Everyone Counts is the company behind the first all-digital election in the United States in 2009 in Honolulu's city, county and neighborhood-board elections. It also developed Oregon's iPad voting, tested in its elections last November, enfranchising voters with disabilities.

Currently, Washington's Secretary of State's Office offers online balloting for overseas military personnel, as required by the MOVE Act.

Online voting helps voters with disabilities connect their own joysticks, headphones, pedals or other devices wirelessly and vote using a medium best suited to their needs.

Implementing online voting will boost youth participation, increasing accessibility over time. Canadian officials found that with new technology, early voting increased 300 percent and overall turnout jumped by nearly 10 percent.

Results are faster with digital elections — votes can be tallied without poll workers individually counting ballots for hours at a time.

If security issues can be ironed out, there is no reason why our democracy — and our voting — shouldn't progress forward with the rest of our technology and communication systems.