I (early) voted today in Nashville's elections for mayor, vice-mayor and city council members. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) it wasn't crowded, so I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.
I parked my car and walked in and around a corner. I stood in line for just a bit, and then stepped up to a counter. I showed the person there my driver's license, she typed some stuff into a computer and then printed out a sheet. She made some highlights, I reviewed it, and then signed on the dotted line.
I then took a small sheet of paper back down the hall into another room and gave it to an older gentleman who escorted me to a voting booth. He put a cartridge into the screen, explained to me how it worked, and I was left to make my selections. After going through a few screens and touching the box for my selections, I was on my way.
Again, the process wasn't long or complicated. Voting shouldn't be. But, despite the use of technology, it is still an incredibly inefficient way of electing our leaders.
Early voting is a great idea. Giving folks a range of days on which they can vote is necessary this day in age. Unfortunately, the run-off is just a one-day event. So, if I have a job that I can't get away from (yes, employers are required to let their employees off for work), or have an emergency come up, then I don't have a say. What if I'm traveling? What if I'm in the hospital?
Not to mention the fact that I have to get in my car and head down to the polling place (where am I supposed to go again?). And if I try to go on the one day I can after work, I've got traffic and dinner to worry about.
When will I be able to vote online? I can pay my bills, change my health insurance, order pizza, sell my old stuff, refinance my house, renew my driver's license, and buy stocks online. But I can't vote.
Sure, there will be folks trying to hack and rig things, but it's not like that's never happened before. And I'm sure that Google or Apple or Microsoft could come up with a pretty darn good system nearly overnight if you allow them a shot at selling ads on it.
People will very easily find reasons NOT to do something. Eliminate excuses by allowing easier access, and introduce more people than ever to the political process. I bet you'd have 200 million people voting in 2008.