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Can Internet Voting Save Neighborhood Council Elections?

Neighborhood council representatives are at City Hall Saturday for a budget meeting where delaying elections until 2014 is on the table.

Lot of attention is focused this Saturday on the mayor’s special budget conference.

It’s happening at City Hall, and local neighborhood council members are in attendance.

One issue is expected to  be whether to postpone neighborhood council elections until 2014.

HIGH COST, LOW TURNOUT IN RECENT ELECTIONS

High cost and low turnout are factors. Some are advocating the use of an online system as a way around those factors.

Charles Hurman-Wurmfeld, a member of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, emailed us on Friday:

Digital voting/voting by phone solutions are pennies on the dollar compared to the old world, last century model...This new model would increase our voter turnout ten-fold compared to the old Silver Lake Rec Center model where there was never enough parking to accommodate wannabe voters. Many simply gave up.  Even without the technology we could do old-style open meetings and work it out. The point is, elections must happen.

Herman-Wurmfeld was at a meeting on Tuesday at the Russian Orthodox Church in Silver Lake where online voting systems were discussed.

Representatives of the firm Everyone Counts made a presentation about the online voting system they provided to Honolulu in 2009 and 2011 neighborhood council elections.

INTERACTIVE SYSTEM ALLOWS FOR UPLOADING VIDEOS, PHOTOS

Katie Jensen explained how the interactive platform lets elections extend over several weeks, improving turnout. Candidates would also be able to post bios, pictures and even You Tube videos.

Jensen said the system helped Honolulu’s neighborhood board elections in 2009 and 2011 cut costs in half and increased turnout.

The Silverlake Neighborhood Council had tried to do Internet voting in the past, only to be prohibited by the City, according to member-at-large Paul Michael Newman. 

Click here to read more about the Everyone Counts platform.

Mark October 30, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Internet voting is a VERY bad idea. There just simply is no way to keep it honest. It would take very little effort to get around whatever they used to authenticate voters. Even if the authentication were accomplished, voting is supposed to be confidential -- and it never could be online as who knows who would be pulling the strings. If you want better voter turnout, for one thing, try sending out notices -- to everyone! Over the years, I have gotten only ONE notice of a vote for the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council! Meanwhile, I rarely hear of anything the Council might be doing -- unless I chase them down. Of course, the entire voting structure of the neighborhood councils is polluted. Geez, people who simply shop in the area are being qualified to vote for the council! Why ever would the qualification to vote of neighborhood council be any different than any other elective office! We have absentee landlords living in other countries who qualify to select my neighborhood council! We're having children of age 14 on the council making major decisions about complicated matters severely impacting my neighborhood -- without even enough experience to decide what's going on in their own household! No wonder they would even consider Internet voting -- they have no clue! This isn't a video game. The neighborhood councils have far more serious foundational problems than worrying about whether to vote by Internet.
Jeremy October 31, 2011 at 01:24 PM
In addition to Mark's excellent comments, it's worth noting an important fact about the Honolulu examples that Everyone Counts pointed to: voter turnout DECREASED by 83% for the 2009 election. So if the goal is to increase turnout, this may not be the solution. [Source: http://www.kitv.com/politics/19573770/detail.html]

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