I’ve been watching the 2006 Election Results all night, and I thought I’d share a discussion I had with my uncle tonight. Well, debate is more like it.
So far with this blog, I haven’t really solicited many opinions here. But maybe it’s time for me to try one of those “Tell me what you think” posts.
The question is:
“Will the United States move to realtime election results in the next 20 years?”
I’ll represent some of the key points from the discussion here, and I’d love it if you’d comment with your own thoughts and feedback. (I’ve simplified the arguments and made them more third person for readability)
Me: People are demanding realtime information more and more with the advent of technologies like the Internet. I know many people who want to know election results as they happen, not waiting until the polls closed. I think the United States might move to realtime election results in the next 20 years.
Uncle: Never. Releasing results before the polls close would definitely affect the outcome. It will never happen.
Me: No doubt it would influence the outcome. But it’s unclear to me that it would influence it in a bad way.
Uncle: If your candidate is losing, you might get discouraged and not go to the polls.
Me: Sure, if your candidate is losing, you might be discouraged from voting. Or, it might inspire you to actually go to the polls and vote. It’s hard to say that it would hurt anything, although it would change the dynamic.
Uncle: This country has a long tradition of secret ballots. Voting is a personal thing, it’s not supposed to be disclosed.
Me: It would still be anonymous. You could easily make sure to only report results in an anonymous fashion, not identifiable. Secret ballot is about people not facing persecution for who they voted for, not delayed results.
Uncle: It will never happen. No country reports elections like that, why would we change?
Me: Everything is moving towards more information and more transparency. It’s very hard to argue in a Democracy that less transparency is a good thing (though not impossible in some cases). Just because it hasn’t been historically possible or expected doesn’t mean that now that it is possible, it won’t be expected. The reason I say 20 years is that 20 years will roughly be the time before the “computer generations” – Gen X & younger – outnumber the Baby Boomers.
Uncle: I think you are way to focused on the computer thing. It will never happen.
I’ll give my Uncle the last word… not.
It’s not about computers, it’s about an insatiable demand for information immediately to help inform decisions. As it becomes common in more and more areas of life, it seems to me that people will expect it in others, like politics.
I’m actually not saying this necessarily will happen, but it’s interesting to think about:
- Whether it will or won’t happen?
- Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?
In 1980, Jimmy Carter conceded at 6:04pm, before the polls had closed on the west coast. Similar issues have taken place over the past two decades.
So, what do you think? Let’s see if we can break my comment record on this blog with more than three on this post! 🙂