I have in my hands an official state ballot inviting me to vote for public officials by mail or online.
Yesterday the mailman brought me a letter from the South Dakota Retirement System. Our state pension system is holding an election for five seats on the Board of Trustees. SDRS asks me to send my paper ballot to Election Services Co.‘s P.O. Box in Ronkonkoma, New York, or vote online through ESC’s secure ballot website. Online voters access the system by logging in with their ZIP code and an “Election Validation Number” included in the letter from SDRS. “In efforts to reduce cost,” says SDRS, “we encourage online voting.” SDS provides no option for me to vote in person. SDRS must receive all votes by 5 p.m. Central on May 25.
The SDRS Board of Trustees is a public body, created by state law, just like county commissions, city councils, school boards, sanitary districts, and most of the other elected offices on which we vote. This public body, serving 84,000-some members, is able to conduct its elections entirely by mail and Internet, delivering ballots and login information to every eligible voter.
If the South Dakota Retirement System can offer voting by mail and online, why not create an online voting system to complement our current mail-in absentee voting system?
p.s.: Oregon, Washington, and Colorado conduct all elections by mail. California will go to all-mail voting in 2018.