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The Tentacle


September 13, 2013

Voting's Next Stage: Online

Harry M. Covert

Rhetorical questions are important sometimes. Here's one for today: Has the fun, seriousness and importance of local elections reached the end of the line?

 

Looking at them from the partisan sides, a mighty small number of citizens took the time to drive to precincts earlier this week in Frederick City. It's astonishing that so few are concerned about who will be their next mayor and Board of Aldermen.

 

There are only 23,403 registered Frederick City voters. Only 4,082 bothered to vote, 14.85 percent. Population of the environs is in the neighborhood of 66,169.

 

With these facts in mind, the time is rapidly approaching when the coveted right of voting comes in for a major renovation. Historic in fact and will require the state's General Assembly to legalize voting online. That's right, using the Internet with all of the modern technologies available.

 

Thus, once all these rights are in place, voters will be able to cast ballots from golf courses, restaurants, gambling casinos, yard work, or whatever enterprise meeting their fancy.

 

Perhaps some far-seeing politicians of all persuasions could find Internet voting enticing and ignite the process, leading the way to using "send" tabs.

 

Imagine how easy that would be. Easy as Internet shopping. This is not far-fetched and could save all levels of government money, lots of it. As is said so often, taxpayers would benefit greatly and not have to fund so much of the selection process. This is not the same as saying "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

 

I expect victors of this week's primary races will get down to some hard-nosed campaigning in time for the November procedures.

 

Another rhetorical question: Are things so good in Frederick that voters are just happy with the ways things are in the state's second largest city?

 

Business seems to be doing well, jobs don't seem a major issue around these parts, schools are still having regular classes for the children, city police seem busy giving traffic tickets, overtime parking tickets, arresting a few robbers and drug dealers, other miscreants, keeping downtown a terrific place for residents and visitors, and no disagreeable fights to speak of.

 

There should be some concern among the 19,321 voters, which includes some independents who couldn't vote. Others just failed in their civic duty. No sense in chastising them any further. Maybe it’s the fault of candidates who didn't generate enough vigor.

 

It will not be a surprise if political parties start registering those in jail on misdemeanors. There may be a few who would find it fun to cast absentee ballots while serving sentences. There are lots of non-felons who could put their names on the voter rolls and consider running for office, too.

 

The day is coming when campaigners will be using Internet sites, similar to You Tube, iTunes, the multi-purpose telephones to attract support. How exciting it is. No pencil ballots, no lever pulls, no arguing over voter identifications or other "inconveniences." The idea is merely to register with the registrar online. Voilà. No fuss, no muss.

 

Another advantage for online voting would be instant results. Candidates and residents would love this.

 

Has the time come when the old polling precincts fade into memory?

 

Other changes may be effecting the "ins" and "outs" soon. The public will get fired up when the question of legalizing marijuana use gains momentum. That will send people to the polls. It will be something to watch partisans and non-partisans facing off.

 

But…that's another story.

 

hmcovert@thecovertletter.com

 



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