Feature

Internet crucial to US presidential election



Daniel Thomas

The Internet has played an increasingly important role in the ongoing saga of the US presidential election, with some voters casting critical votes online and Web sites organising protests against the results.

The presidential race hinges on the outcome in Florida, where the difference is being measured in hundreds out of the million votes submitted - some of which were ballots cast over the Internet.

A pilot programme developed by the US Department of Defense allowed about 200 service people stationed overseas, their families, and some civilians to vote online. Two of the five regions taking part in the experiment - Okaloosa and Orange counties - are in Florida.

Online voters largely sent in their selections through the defence department's secure networks. The election office then decrypted and downloaded the forms, which are counted with other standard absentee ballots.

If the online votes prove crucial, this may give the advantage to George W Bush, as service people are traditionally more conservative than the general US population.

In a separate development, various Web sites have organised protests and offered affidavits as part of the fight to demand a fresh ballot in Florida.

Democrats.com, an independent news and community site, offered affidavits online to residents of Palm Beach County, Florida to print and fax to a local attorney's office that is considering a lawsuit. The affidavit is designed for voters in the area who mistakenly cast their votes for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Democrat Al Gore.

Those who sign the affidavit at Democrats.com declare that they believe the election returns in their specific precinct of Palm Beach County to be "erroneous" and requests that they be "investigated, examined, checked and corrected".


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This was first published in November 2000

 

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