This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 14, 2000

Voting in the Future

47 Days until January 1, 2001

With all the furor over voting in the United States, we decided to look ahead to get a glimpse of voting in the future.

Today people vote at a polling place in the precinct closest to their residence. In the future, people will be able to vote from anywhere in the country, establishing their identity by using the magnetic strips and bar codes on their driver's license or citizen identification card. Using machines that look and operate like ATM machines that dispense cash for banks, voters will swipe their cards or match them to a point on the screen. Entering a PIN number will verify identity.

The computer will provide immediate access to an electronic ballot, with all the information and selections that appear on the voter's ballot in the home precinct. When the vote has been submitted, it will be impossible to use the same identification card again for that election. For further identity confirmation, the voting machine could match retinas, fingerprints, or even take a digital photo of the voter. Fraud could be completely eliminated.

This process will allow citizens to vote at any poll across the entire country, since the entire system will be linked together. Results of the vote will be instantly transmitted to the home precinct for local tabulation and reporting. Voting machines could be set up in airports, train stations, or even shopping malls to make the process highly accessible. Staffing needs will be negligible because the directions will be easy to follow. Vote counting will be considerably more efficient, since everything will be electronic.

Eventually, voting on-line will be possible, streamlining the process even more. Many voters will cast their ballots from home or from work, saving a lot of time, frustration from waiting in line, and poll worker staffing requirements. An additional benefit will be the ability for citizens to vote instantly from locations outside the country. People who are in other countries for work, military service, or vacation travel will be able to vote conveniently from wherever they are . . . and know that their votes were actually counted.

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