Democrats Abroad Cast First Online Votes; Dogs Help

Image: Democrats abroadFor the six million or so Americans who live overseas, voting has always been a bit sketchy. According to the non-partisan Election Assistance Commission, only a third of the nearly one million ballots issued last election cycle were actually cast.

So, for the first time, Democrats living abroad are now able to cast primary votes online.  San Francisco-based firm Everyone Counts was contracted by the overseas arm of the Democratic Party to run this part of their primary, which will assign 22 delegates.  (Continue reading for the part about dogs.)

Wired magazine’s Nicole Martinelli describes the Democrats Abroad E-Voting System which, though lacking in identity authentication, does seem like a step up from the roulette that is part of many foreign postal systems. 

However, for a real “what were they thinking?” moment, check out E;eryone Counts’ voter education video in which newscasting dogs explain how to use their voting system. (Finally, we know those poker-playing dogs have day jobs.)

Similar initiatives, sans dog training videos, have faced greater difficulties. Pentagon plans to provide an online absentee voting system to both uniformed and civilian citizens living abroad for the 2004 election were abruptly scrapped after an external group of scientists identified serious security concerns.

Some countries have adopted online voting officially, though it seems more established democracies are moving more slowly in this direction, as they must compare risks and benefits to their current systems.

Though this latest initiative is part of a real primary, it is clearly experimental. Once Democrats abroad have voted in online primaries, we’ll see whether they re-engage with the paper balloting which will be the basis of the official U.S. general election.

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