Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's Oct. 27 "Digital Diary'' in GoLocal24.com.
“Though many in the modern age have the will to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to political matters, nobody can only concern themselves with the proverbial pebble in their shoe. If one is successful in avoiding politics, at some point the effects of the political decisions they abstained from participating in will reach their front door.’’
-- George Orwell
It's remarkable what can happen after millions of people vote before Election Day.
In an effort to make voting as easy as drinking a cup of coffee, an increasing number of jurisdictions are letting people vote in person weeks before the election, on the Internet and, more than ever, by absentee ballot. These represent a trend that threatens our democracy, already degraded by the celebrity culture and the lies and demagoguery on radio, cable TV and the Internet, and threatened by online sabotage by foreign actors and homegrown crooks.
Early voting lets people vote without crucial information about candidates and their policies that might come to light in the last few weeks of a campaign. It makes a lot of sense in a democracy to have as many people as possible come to the polls on the same day and with the same general information. Certainly there are some cases, such as with shut-ins, of people who can’t get to the polls; they must be accommodated. But the overwhelming majority of citizens can easily take the 20 minutes or half an hour required to show up and vote – and yes, photo IDs should be required of everyone to avoid fraud.
Going to the polls on the same day is a celebration of, and reminder of, the preciousness of the right to vote. We’re degrading that by making the voting experience more superficial, in the Slob Culture that has taken over America. It’s interesting that voting for many offices has declined even as we have made it easier and easier. We have devalued it.
Internet voting is a huge menace. Nothing, repeat nothing on the Internet is secure from hackers, be they homegrown hackers, including many thieves, those working for the Russian and Chinese dictatorships or such terrorist groups as ISIS. Such individuals, nations and groups are constantly engaging in cyber-war against the U.S. and its citizens. Thus, Internet voting should be banned by all states.
Beyond that, it’s past time for Americans to wake up and push back on attempts by business and governments to get us to do virtually all our transactions on the Internet. Of course most business executives like the Internet because it lets them lay off more people, rewarding those executives with even more money. And governments like it because it lets them, too, cut staffs and because it tends to keep pesky citizens with their complaints and questions at more distance.
But this relentless push to make everyone live on the Internet puts citizens in ever-increasing danger of having their information, their privacy and their money stolen and their reputations sullied. They could start their pushback by as much as possible avoiding online banking and other routine financial transactions and become far more careful about their use of social media. As I have often said, paper is looking better and better.
Meanwhile, the swelling Internet of Things (e.g., printers, thermostats and power systems connected to the Web) poses a wide range of new threats to governments at all levels, businesses and individuals.
The World Wide Web expandedfar faster than security and now we’re all in peril.
Companies have been ever more heavily selling computer-connected hardware without thinking through the ramifications of what they were doing, such as letting the Chinese and Russians turn off our power.
We already have much reason to rue our over-reliance on the Internet. Much of that over-reliance has been involuntary but some of it is a voluntary and myopic quest for convenience above all else.