Democrats Raising Arizona with Historic Web Vote

SAN MATEO (03/08/2000) - REGISTERED ARIZONA DEMOCRATS made history on Super Tuesday on March 7 as the first voters in U.S. history to cast ballots by simply clicking the mouse and sending them over the Internet.

The online vote, which is making its debut in legally binding elections, will continue in the Arizona Democratic primary election for four days, ending on Friday just before midnight. The standard physical polling locations open on Saturday for on-site electronic and paper voting.

Mary Rose Wilcox, a supervisor for Maricopa County, was the first person in U.S. voting history to electronically send her vote over the Internet at 12:01 a.m. on March 7, according to a report on rockthevote.com. She barely beat out Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Mark Fleisher, who jumped the gun and tried to submit his vote a bit too soon.

The process of online voting has four main parts: voters go to the Web site, type in a pre-assigned identification number, answer some brief verification questions, and cast their votes. The identification numbers ensure that no person can cast more than one vote. New York-based Election.com is handling the election.

The online vote makes it possible to vote from virtually anywhere, whether at work, home, or on the road. The hope for some proponents is that it will draw more voters in who can't find the time or simply don't make the effort to physically go to the polling places.

Online voting has been met with some controversy and opposition, however. Just last week a federal judge mandated that online voting was legal, despite pleas from groups such as the Voting Integrity Project (VIP), based in Arlington, Va.

The VIP claims that online voting discriminates against minorities and the poor, violating the Voting Rights Act, according to a statement on the company's Web site.

Other concerns were raised about security issues and fears stemming from the recent hacking and DoS (denial of service) attacks on some of the nations largest and most secure sites.

Democrat officials, however, remained positive that online voting would be a success in Arizona and will become a more common practice in future elections.

"[This] marks the beginning of a new age where technology assists all voters in making their choices known on Election Day," Fleisher says in a statement on the Arizona Democratic Party's Web site.

Registered Democrats in Arizona can vote online at https://www.electionprimary.com/azvoter.

Election.com, in Garden City, N.Y., is at http://www.election.com. The Arizona Democratic Party, in Phoenix, is at http://www.azdem.org. The Voting Integrity Project is at http://www.voting-integrity.org.

Brad Shewmake is InfoWorld's editorial assistant.

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