If electronic voting machines with point-to-point modems are vulnerable to hacking, Internet voting must be even more risky. The practice does exist already, though it's not nearly as common as DRE or paper voting systems. In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to hold a general election via the Internet. In a 2011 Estonian election, Internet voters represented 24 percent of the tabulated votes [source: VVK.ee]. The e-voting period was open for several days of advance voting before the election, making it especially convenient for voters to get online and cast a vote. Unique ID cards are used to identify voters and ensure they vote only once.
Many countries are worried about the security of online voting. Larger populations make things more complicated -- while less than 600,000 people voted in Estonia's 2011 election, millions vote in elections in the U.S. and other nations. The U.S. is exploring e-mail and fax-based voting for Americans stationed overseas, even though security experts believe online voting is risky [source: NPR]. Of course, allowing members of the army to vote online is very different than opening up Internet voting to the entire public.
We're slowly moving in the direction of Internet voting with services like LiveBallot, which was used by a U.S. citizen living in Thailand to vote in the 2012 New Hampshire Republican primary [source: Mashable]. Still, electronic voting hasn't completely embraced modern technology. Who wants to return a vote via fax? As more countries adopt Internet voting platforms, the risk will be mitigated as much as possible. After all, paper voting has been around for hundreds of years, and that process stillisn't completely secure.
Voting is a huge, heavy topic, but I had fun researching some of the more unusual election systems out there in the world. The U.S. isn't the only country skeptical of electronic voting systems, but I'm glad the government is pushing ahead with them. I'd love to see how a system like Estonia's Internet voting would work in a larger country. How many millions of citizens would vote thanks to the convenience? Security is essential, but the sooner we can move to a system like that, the better!
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The date the U.S. president must vacate office is written into the Constitution, election or not. Filling the seat without an election, though, is complicated.