It seems silly to me that in a time where the most people ever in human history have had a platform to voice themselves, through social media that is, we’ve nominated the two least favorable and least representative candidates in history. We have a billionaire and a millionaire running for president while approximately half of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. We have a Democrat and a demagogue who vie for our youthful votes, yet ignore the issues that will affect our generation most: crippling student loan debt and climate change.
But I feel that these online platforms have the potential to expand themselves into platforms for democracy where everyone who has a verified profile and social security number, may have their vote and their opinions heard equally. No more voter oppression, no more hanging chads, no more absentee or provisional ballots that might not be counted anyway, no more leeway for corruption.
There is no doubt that social media has played an enormous role in this election cycle. I believe this is because for the first time in human history, everyone who has access to the internet has an equal opportunity to voice their opinions, weigh in on how our democratic process makes them feel and access the massive storage cloud of information that the internet provides us.
At the time of the 2008 election, Facebook had approximately 100 million active users. Today as it stands, there are 1.79 billion. Let those numbers sink in as you compare the chaos erupted, corruption exposed, and opinions spread throughout this election season to eight years ago.
There is virtually no more distinction between what Joe Shmoe posted on his blog and what the New York Times editorial pages editor, with years of experience and insight, has to say about the two presidential candidates. Because if Joe Shmoe has more Twitter followers than the esteemed editor, or someone captures his tweet as a meme that goes viral on Facebook, guess whose message is reaching more people? This insanity is arguably what’s driving the 2016 presidential election to such extremes, but it also proves the larger point I’m trying to make in that on the internet everyone has an equal playing field.
With people working longer hours, rural farmers being forced to drive longer distances as a result of fewer and fewer polling places, and Election Day not even qualifying as a national holiday, wouldn’t it make more sense to give people the option of voting through a secure online server? No more waiting in line, no more voter role purges, no more anxiety about whether the Democrat holding your Republican ballot is going to count it properly, or vice versa.
Hacking and cyber attacks are a very real possibility, yes, but that hasn’t stopped us from transitioning to a near total dependency of doing everything from banking to dating online. I am confident that if we had the best computer scientists in the world developing this type of program, it could be as secure as any of these other mediums that house our most personal information. And while these are very real threats, we can not let fear of the future inhibit this inevitable progression.
With the next presidential election being held in the year 2020, I feel it’s simply time to adapt. It’s the 21st century, and technology is not slowing down. So we have to ask ourselves, if we keep all of our finances online, if we can earn a full college degree online and if we spend most of our waking hours online, isn’t it time we ought to be able to vote online, too?