Thursday, May 9, 2013

Younger generations embrace e-voting


The rapid evolution of technology during the past few decades has entailed a generational mindset shift. While the older generations have been generally adverse to change, today’s youth is easily adaptable to the fast-paced integration of ever more advanced tools into the world. Young people are open to incorporating new technologies into different aspects of their life, and this is reflected on the wide implementation of e-voting in colleges.

On an earlier post we had mentioned how the development of e-voting technology is in the hands of the youth. It’s been only about a year since a couple of Indian students invented an electronic solution to the absenteeism problem their country was facing, and now automation is taking over student unions in colleges all over the world. The use of electoral technology has become so widespread that news on the subject are no longer focused on automation as a novelty but as an everyday fact that is accepted and championed by students all across the US and beyond.

The speed with which higher education institutions have implemented automated elections is explained by a simple fact: younger people embrace technological innovation much more readily than their older counterparts. College students understand that electronic voting represents a big advantage in terms of security, reliability, and speed. Instead of complaining about how e-voting might not be safe—an attitude typically associated with the older generations reluctant to change—, students are looking for a way to shield their electoral processes without having to lose a valuable tool.

In Johns Hopkins University, for example, the National CyberWatch Center Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition was held on April 10-13 in an effort to promote cybersecurity awareness. In this contest, students tested their skills and knowledge to defend a fictitious electronic voting system from cyberattacks. This was accompanied by a symposium on e-voting, a job fair for college students, and a high school exposition. Note that the aim of this event was in no way to evaluate electoral technology as a threat, but as an opportunity for future engineers, scientists and politicians to improve on a promise for the advancement of democracy.

People who were born surrounded by technology and who have watched it advance as they have grown up are much more accepting of it than their parents. This generational shift is much welcome, as it means that the gates are now wide open for electoral automation, and there is no way back. Most certainly, the next generation will talk about manual voting as a historical curiosity.