America Must Move Forward into the Electronic Age of Voting

America Must Move Forward into the Electronic Age of Voting

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America Must Move Forward into the Electronic Age of Voting


The levels of excitement grew throughout election night all across the nation. The respective parties gathered in various convention rooms all over the United States. The tension in the air could be felt as one entered the rooms hosted by any candidate’s party. As the evening progressed, one could tell this would be a close election.

November 7 is a day many people in America take for granted. I have heard many times people muttering, ‘my vote is not going to even make the difference so why should I vote?’ Many Americans don’t feel their vote is important enough to even get off their butts to go and vote. However, as a political science major it is imperative to me to exercise my right to vote. Not only have people died fighting for rights such as this, but it also gives me the opportunity and the right to voice an opinion after the election. If you don’t vote what gives you the right to complain? Nothing. Since we are a democracy we should not take the right to vote lightly and a great majority of Americans do.

For some reason, this election proved to be different. The voting percentages were higher than most election years. According to the www.msnbc.com the majority of votes come from retired people and military voters. College students throughout the past years have decreased percentage-wise in voter turnout. In 1996 the number of college students who cast their ballots had decreased 23% since 1992. Student Advantage Magazine (SAM) lists various issues for the decline in college voter turnout. The top two reasons SAM lists, as reasons for the dwindling numbers are apathy and laziness. However www.msnbc.com has stated with more students becoming politically active, the numbers should increase in future elections.

For example, voting numbers increased a small percentage for this election. Why are people voting now? Is it because we have good candidates running? Is it because American’s finally feel the pressure to get off their lazy butts and make it to the polls? Does it have anything to do with absentee ballots being used at the highest rate in our nations history?

Americans tend to think in the manner, “I will vote for this person if he wants what I want.” At least they have substance on their reasons for voting for someone.

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Many Americans step into the ballot boxes with out having an inkling of what the guys on the ballot even represent. For instance, while standing in line at the voting booth, I heard a middle-aged man say, “I am going to vote for Bush. He is a Democrat isn’t he?”

My first instinct was, “OH MY GOD! How stupid can someone be? Do you not watch television? Have you not seen the commercials?” I thought I was going to hyperventilate. I was fuming.

My second instinct was to go up and tell him, “If you don’t know who or what they represent, why are you even voting?” People should be informed of at least the basics when they cast their ballot on Election Day. Uninformed voters serve basically no purpose, especially to themselves. For instance, if an uniformed voter is against abortion and votes for a candidate that “sounds good” then after voting realizes the person they voted for is pro-abortion, then they didn’t serve themselves or their cause justly. People need to be informed when they are dealing with the election of candidates to public office. It doesn’t matter what level of public office the people they are voting for serve. If it is a County Commissioner or President of the United States, it should not matter. People need to know what they want to vote for and then find the person who most likely resembles that stance on the issues.

In this election for instance, the state of Florida has gotten America into election frenzy. With twenty-five Electoral College votes they have enough to send either George W. Bush or Al Gore into the presidential office today. As the media have repeatedly stated, there hasn’t been a closer election since John F. Kennedy’s. Oregon still has not turned in a complete winner of the state. They are still undecided at the time of this paper. Yet, they are getting less attention than Florida because they only have seven Electoral College votes. While it seems to be very few compared to Florida their votes should still count. They should be getting more media attention as well. (for more information click here: http://www.nara.gov/fedreg/elctcoll/).

On November 7, the news media made two crucial errors in telecasting the election. Early in the evening, they gave Florida to Gore. Then they took it back. Next they gave it to Bush. Bush was then declared President. However, the media ended up taking back Florida from Bush after 3:30 in the morning because the count was so close. I went to bed thinking George W. Bush was the President-elect of our country and woke up hearing differently. Three weeks later, we still don’t know who the American President will be.

All the counting and recounting in Florida has made Americans proud to be able to have their votes count. A great majority of citizens still didn’t turn out to vote in the election; they are probably wishing they had to ensure the guy they wanted to win did. I think many people feel it’s not like my vote is worth anything anyways, so why waste the time going to the polls to stand in line and vote? They were definitely proven wrong in this election. I am unsure as to why voter turnout was so high (need more research) this election, but I am happy to see not only the state levels increasing, but the national levels are shooting upward as well. People’s votes really do matter, and this election proved it to everyone. I never thought, along with the rest of America, we would still be unsure of our President well into the middle of December. I think a lot of Americans, along with the rest of the world, are the to the point of not even caring just as long as we have a president.

It’s pretty sad when political science majors, teachers, and the like are often quoted saying “wake me up when we have a president”. The most politically active people in America don’t even care anymore-to an extent.

Since the occurrence in Florida, many Democratic leaders, especially newly elected Senator for New York Hillary Rodham Clinton. She feels the Electoral College is unnecessary especially with all the new technology, which can be used in the electoral process nowadays. The Electoral College was set up so we would not have to be doing what they are doing in Florida right now-hand counting all the ballots and getting the results in a timely manner. With the technology today many people can jump on the web in Oregon and find out the results in North Carolina within a matter of seconds. It doesn’t matter what the time is or the time zone differences. The results will be available to everyone via the web or even via the telephone. As most Americans have access to computers or telephones nowadays, it would be foolish to stay with the idea of keeping with the past and the old ways of ticket punching the ballot. Why shouldn’t we have an electronic ballot? It would probably increase voter turnout and decrease voter fraud and error, especially in relation to the chads.

We can thank the media for brining the word chad into the American household as a common everyday term. Lately if you turn on the television all you hear is “dimpled chads, impregnated chads, torn chads…. chads, chads, chads” All the while most American citizens do not even know what a chad can mean? Chads occur when the voter does not push all the way through on the ballot. Partial punches end up with a mark (dimpled chads, impregnated chads), or sometimes they are even left hanging on the ballot (torn chads). The major issue in Florida right now seems to be the related to the ballots, which would be normally thrown out because of the chads. Chads normally make the ballot void, because it could have come loose just from being handled or other various reasons.

In agreement with Hillary Clinton, why wouldn’t we want to move forward into the electronic age of voting and not have to worry about another election like this happening? Many people from other nations probably are looking down on America and wondering why we can’t even decide upon a President.
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