Cyber-Elections and the Minority Voter’s Response

June 16, 2012

At first thought, Internet voting seems like an inexpensive, convenient and accurate platform for the election process. Given the current inadequacies in access to the Internet, however, remote Internet voting could potentially disenfranchise minorities. Internet voting makes voting more convenient for predominantly white voters and creates a bias that hinders minorities’ full participation in the election process.
Many argue that Internet voting would not result in inequalities because it would only be supplemental to traditional voting methods. Some also suggest that any device that improves overall voter turnout generally, necessarily improves voter turnout of minorities. Statistical data of racially disparate Internet access, however, proves that the digital divide is real and that the use of remote Internet voting, even as a supplement, will actually deny minorities full participation in the political process. The response to Internet voting presents a difficult dilemma for the civil rights community. Given the benefits of e-voting, namely convenience and efficiency, “litigating to stop such technological progress seems Paul Bunyan-esque.” Litigation, however, may be the only effective short-term strategy.
While the civil rights community should consider bringing a claim under the Voting Rights Act, the most important strategies for combating vote dilution are long-term. The use of information technologies to counter numerical disadvantages must be considered. Specifically, strategies such as assisted voting sites, Internet campaigns, and Internet language translation present the possibility of using cyberspace to gain greater minority representation.