My novel, Wayward Patriot: Preserving the Vote, was conceived in my mind not long after the 2000 election. The image of Florida poll workers holding ballots up to the lights above, trying to divine the voter’s intent while “hanging chads” and “dimpled chads” cast doubt all along the way. I thought, wouldn’t this be an interesting backdrop for a suspense novel? The idea never left my mind, although, by early 2020 when I was preparing to retire, I decided that election problems were a thing of the past. I thought, perhaps I had missed the boat on that concept. Of course after the 2020 election, my book concept was resurrected and I finally put it to paper.
The novel, though dealing with elections, does not use politics as a backdrop, only the desire for secure, fair elections that do not drag on for weeks as votes are counted. Well, guess what, with votes still being counted nearly three weeks after Election Day, my premise remains relevant.
trying to divine the voter’s intent while “hanging chads” and “dimpled chads” cast doubt all along the way
As I conducted research for my book, I met with a friend who is an expert in cyber security. I asked about current capabilities in keeping online transactions secure. My conclusion is that it is possible to develop a secure registration and voting system that would allow people to register and vote online. It would involve photo I.D. verification and, at the time of registration, would record the voter’s voice pattern to be used for voter identification during the election. At election time, an electronic ballot would be sent to the voter to be completed. In order for the vote to be certified, the voice pattern of the voter would have to match the one established at registration. Dead people couldn’t vote because they can’t talk. Nobody could mark another person’s ballot. Their voice would not match.
Within an hour of “polls closing” a final vote count would be known in every precinct around the country
As our society becomes more computer literate, a large majority of people could vote in this manner. Those that did not have a computer with a camera and microphone, or who just couldn’t figure out the technology could go to a polling station and receive the assistance of a poll worker. One or two people at senior living centers could be trained to assist residents with voting. For all of these processes where others were assisting, an online audit system would create a video record of the activity and auditors would review these on a random basis to ensure the voter was not being manipulated in any way.
Within an hour of “polls closing” a final vote count would be known in every precinct around the country.
Might this work beyond the pages of my novel? Perhaps. Who would develop such a system? Fifty states develop their own election processes. One state would have to make a big investment to develop the technology, perhaps hoping that others would jump on board as it is proven.
I am hearing people calling us to return to paper ballots. All I can think of is hanging chads and stray marks being reviewed to determine a voter’s intent. What do you think? Have you got a vision of an “ideal” election system?