No More Print and Sign: Voter Registration Finally Catches Up
We’ve been booking our plane tickets, paying our bills and buying just about everything online for quite some time. However, when it comes to casting our vote or even registering to vote, things are somewhat archaic. That is, until now. Thanks to a bill (SB 397) authored by Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, Californians can now register to vote on a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Since 2009, we’ve been able to fill out a voter registration form online, but still needed to print, sign and mail it in. Thanks to new technology, which creates a signature identical to one we would write ourselves, everything can now be done online, as long as a signature is already on file with the DMV.
To say that digital voter registration is long overdue is an understatement. There are more than 100 million smartphone users, and more than 30 million tablet users in the U.S. Yet, only about 60 percent of eligible citizens voted in the last presidential election. With a statistic like this, why not make it easier to register? Why does it have to be a hassle involving paperwork, sign-ups and quite honestly, a relatively high risk of human error? Papers get lost, names aren’t entered correctly, a “0” becomes an “8” and ultimately someone goes unregistered. If we knew how easy it was to register and re-register when we move, it will become second nature, just like booking airline tickets. Sure, this concept fits in well with a younger, more digital demographic, but it’s so much more inclusive than that. It’s literally giving the public real-time access to democracy. We can do this anytime, as long as we have our trusty digital sidekick with us.
One question that is assuredly top of mind is security. We are creatures of habit and are worried, often rightfully so, about the unknown. We have grown comfortable handing out our credit card number over the phone and casting our ballots into what could be a circa 1955 voting machine, but the thought of sending our social security or driver’s license number out into the seemingly never-ending www-sphere is overwhelming. However, so much of that fear is simply because we are not familiar with the process. In reality, with the proper security protocols in place we can create a safe and secure environment, such as AES encryption, which is used to encrypt financial and government data. In a country that prides itself on democracy and innovation, how has this not happened earlier? How are we still setting up tables outside of grocery stores and rushing up to people with clipboards? I won’t even mention those dangling chads… but now we’re getting into the actual voting process, beyond registration and we aren’t quite there yet. But, we will be. We just need to take it one step, or voter registration, at a time. By the way, if you haven’t already, there is still time to register to vote in most states before the November Presidential General Election.