Wednesday, December 26, 2012

E-voting is already taken for granted in schools

Image: ccarlstead
Although some countries are still reticent to implement e-voting in their governmental elections, the modernization of polling methods is already a reality for many educational institutions. Numerous schools and universities use the benefits of technology to choose their student councils, as it has been proven that e-voting is far superior to manual voting methods.

The practice of e-voting is widespread in schools around the world. A simple online search leads to a seemingly endless list of institutions that have been using electoral technology for years. It could even be said that paper balloting is a thing of the past for them, as teachers and members of student councils have discovered that voter turnout increases dramatically when voting is carried out electronically.

A good example of this is Wayne State University, in Detroit. In 2004, it established an online voting system for its internal referendums. Before that year, only 900 people at most could participate in Student Senate elections, out of a possible 31,000 eligible voters. Switching from paper balloting to electronic voting brought a 51% increase in voter turnout, as students became able to cast their ballot at a time and location of their convenience. Moreover, there was a substantial decrease in resource and cost requirements, and human error was significantly reduced as well.

Some schools use electronic voting systems for anti-bullying campaigns. Since e-voting safeguards students’ anonymity, they can feel safe to report who’s a bully and who’s being bullied. Only teachers have access to information on who has voted for whom in each category. Thus, there is also the guarantee that students will definitely be heard, and therefore, their problems will be addressed.

Electronic voting in schools is not limited to internal affairs. Electoral technology is also used to engage students in politics from an early age. Each year, the Youth Leader Initiative (YLI) carries out the largest student-only mock election in the US. Any school can sign up for it, and since it is online-based, it offers flexibility for schools to hold their own mock election when it best accommodates their schedules. The program is supplemented with classroom lesson plans on topics such as primaries, caucuses, the American electoral process, political ideology, and the foundations of American government. Results for the elections become available online as soon as the exercise period ends.

Schools are an example for larger institutions that are still hesitant to implement electoral technology in their elections. The positive aspects of e-voting are clearly reflected on the way it has become prevalent in educational institutes across the US and the world. Modernization is coming little by little, but schools have already taken a giant leap towards it.