Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How elections will change

It's been a much more positive election season this year than four years ago. Even Alex Tabarrok voted (for the first time). Change is in the air. But the election process itself is still stuck in the middle ages.

I had to stand in line today for more than an hour and a half before voting. And while I like the idea of going to a common place to vote and meeting my neighbors, thirty minutes would be plenty.

I have been struck by the huge gulf between: (a) the technology used to recruit voters and raise money; and (b) the technology used to record votes. The voter recruitment and fundraising efforts leverage Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, email, text messaging, and Twitter. Voting still involves for the most part standing in line. Even the voting machines are nothing really new - we had mechanical versions of those in rural Kentucky in the 1960s.

A lot of people turned out today (and more voted early) because they felt so strongly about the state of the country and the candidates. But we can't take for granted next time. If we want to keep voter turnout high, we need to find a much better way to let people vote, probably via the internet.