Target: Utah GOP Chairman James Evans
Goal: Abolish flawed online voting system that skews actual votes.
The state Republican party of Utah has still not published the final results of the presidential caucuses that took place a month ago. On April 22nd, the party’s website indicated that only 89 percent of precincts had reported tallies from the March 22nd caucus. In some counties, that number was as low as 45 percent.
Astonishingly, Utah GOP chairman James Evans has praised his party’s management of this most recent electoral phase, claiming “historical numbers” in voter turnouts for the “nation’s first completely online presidential election.” Evans’ statements could hardly be less reflective of the truth: turnouts are lower than they were in 2008, and the election was only partially conducted online. Moreover, the online component of the election was by far the most troubling.
Online voting is different from online voting registration. Online voting registration constitutes an accessible way for citizens to register as voters. While standard voting registration often forces people to travel long distances and procure forms of identification that may require time and money, online voting registration opens the voting pool to populations who would otherwise be excluded (including people living below the poverty line and young people without driver’s licenses or passports).
Online voting, however, particularly in states like Utah, has not been introduced as a way to reach disenfranchised voters. Contrarily, the system has come into use with the aim of reaching thousands of Mormons living abroad who would significantly boost the constituency for conservative candidates.
Previous attempts to implement online voting have been made in Arizona and Alaska, ending in comparable problems. The entire idea of online voting has been unreservedly blasted by security researchers who have condemned the ease with which the integrity of the system can be compromised.
Voting online incurs an extremely high risk of being manipulated by malware and other hacking maneuvers. Individual devices and entire geographical areas can be targeted. Additionally, the possibility of voter fraud rises significantly with online voting–the already real phenomenon of buying votes is just one trend that can grow exponentially in the absence of private voting booths. Furthermore, the system is guilty of erecting more barriers between citizens and their ballots than it breaks down. Across the state of Utah, voters reported having trouble tracking and entering their 30-character personalized password.
Even the state party itself has begun to acknowledge serious flaws in what was touted to be a smooth and efficient process. Marc Stalling, a Utah GOP legislative chairman, admitted that “a lot of people had challenges,” citing anecdotal evidence from his wife’s experience of having to get a code reissued over the telephone, only to hear an automated message saying, “All of our operators are busy. Goodbye.”
In an ideologically warped defense of his party’s new voting system, James Evans maintained that “we are a private political organization, so we can choose the acceptable level of risk that we choose.” Sign the petition below to criticize the man of too few words and his state party for making a mockery of the democratic process.
Dear Chairman James Evans,
Over a month has passed since the March presidential caucus. You have continued to defend your party’s experiment with online voting that has gone unsurprisingly awry. Members of your own state party and cyber security experts alike have lined up to point out the shortfalls in Utah’s perversion of the electoral system. It’s time you listened to what these concerned critics and troubled citizens have to say.
Voting in person, or through mail, is a largely imperfect system. Replacing this imperfect system with an even more profoundly flawed one does not represent progress by any rational standard. Online voting is extremely susceptible to potential attacks from hackers who can target individuals or even entire geographical areas. It also makes voter fraud more likely by simplifying the phenomenon of vote-buying. The original premise supposed to have been underlying the introduction of online voting–increasing accessibility to voters–is defeated by a 30-character personalized password that voters reported having difficulty using, and massive disorganization that includes reliance on underdeveloped telephone and email support.
Utah is not the first state to experiment with online voting. Previous attempts in Arizona and Alaska resulted in similar failures. With dissenters mounting in Utah’s GOP, your list of supporters in this issue is growing thin, and the body of evidence supporting an abolition of online voting in Utah is growing too large to ignore.
Although the Utah GOP is acting within its legal rights in its adoption of a corrupt voting system, its decision to do so poses a clear threat to the American democratic process. By misrepresenting its constituents, the Utah GOP is presenting undeserving candidates to the rest of the nation, unfairly silencing the people of Utah, and sending an unequivocal message that the common vote is meaningless.
Chairman Evans, you are being called on to restore the public voice in Utah and preserve the integrity of the democratic method. I demand that you immediately put an end to online voting in Utah.
[Your name here]
Photo credit: Ciudadania Digital