We asked more than 1,000 Americans from every state for their opinions about online voting. This is what we found.
- Only 10% have never voted in a presidential election, and over 50% of our respondents say they always participate in national, presidential elections.
- 40% admit to having skipped voting in a presidential election, despite being eligible.
- According to fairvote.org, nationwide, about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections, and our sample seems to fall in line with that estimate.
When we asked if, theoretically, would you ever cast an online vote for the presidential election, 80% of respondents said they would be likely or somewhat likely to do so. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to be favorable toward online voting, and responses correlated directly with age, with youth being more favorable.
Almost 50% of respondents report feeling frustrated by the lack of an online voting option, and 75% think that people should be given an online option. 92% of respondents think that online voting would save them time, and 79% say that it would make them more likely to participate in local elections.
With regard to opinions about government administration of an online voting system, a majority prefer that the federal government create and administer an online voting system, but only 13% have high or very high faith in the government to roll out this functionality.
When we asked people to state the concerns they have with regard to online voting, the top three answers focused on concerns about the potential for voter fraud, security, and technical issues. Only 3% had privacy concerns.
In summary, our respondents do want an online voting option, but they have concerns about the technical and security challenges that come with putting the voting system online.
As it happens, this puts them in line with experts on the subject. A recent Engadget article summarizes the history of attempts to move voting online. Their reporting concludes that the security challenges are just too great, relative to the demand for such a system, and that it is unlikely that we’ll see online voting any time soon.
We conducted this survey by coming up with a list of questions we were curious about amongst ourselves. We then posted them on the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform.
As we are software developers, not pollsters or statisticians, we did our best to craft neutral questions. However, we didn’t conduct any formal analysis of how our presentation may have affected people’s answers. We’re aware our information is likely to be skewed in favor of younger and more technology-savvy individuals, by virtue of conducting the survey online. With that caveat, we are satisfied our demographics don’t look too skewed and represent a reasonable cross-section of the nation.
We were happy that we were able to capture responses from every state in the U.S. We note in the demographic data that women, youth, and Democrats are over-represented a bit, but not so much that we feel it invalidates the results.
We worked with a marketing person who has experience conducting surveys on Amazon Mechanical Turk. We endeavored to run the program as long as it took to get at least 1,000 responses, and we expected that to take at least a week. To our surprise, this survey received more than 1,000 responses in two days. This seems to be an indicator of the breadth of interest in the topic.
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- Blog Post 1 – Why Can’t We Vote Online?
- Blog Post 2 – Would You Vote Online?
- Blog Post 3 – Developing an Online Voting App
- Hack Brief: As FBI Warns Election Sites Got Hacked, All Eyes Are On Russia – wired.com
- U.S. Election Assistance Commission – Voting System Testing & Certification Managing Election Technology – eac.gov
- FairVote – Research – Voter Turnout – fairvote.org
- Why can’t Americans vote online? – engadget.com
- For Every 10 U.S. Adults, Six Vote and Four Don’t. What Separates Them? – nytimes.com
- Fusion.Net – January 2015 Survey of Millennials – fusion.net
- Poll: Millennials eager for online voting – thehill.com
- National Conference of State Legislatures – Electronic Transmission of Ballots – ncsl.org
- Hacking the Election: Myths & Realities – computerworld.com