Online Voting Platforms and the Future of Voter Turnout

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Date
2016-12-20
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Publisher
Virginia Tech
Abstract

As low-voter-turnout continues to be a concern for the political system in the U.S., the idea online voting platforms (OVPs), to reduce access and use barriers, has been debated. Lowlevel elections in several states across the country have experimented with OVPs through U.S.based internet voting organization, Everyone Counts. These experiments resulted in both the confirmation of perceived benefits and problems. Surveying 196 U.S. citizens through Survey Sampling International, this study garnered respondents' feelings toward several factors correlated with voter-turnout, and the likelihood of adopting OVPs. Using the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Technology Use Model to frame the analysis, the data were analyzed using ols regression. I predicted that citizens would perceive OVPs as an improvement to the current system, and consequently, voter-turnout would increase if OVPs were available, especially among younger citizens (ages 18-44). The analyses illustrated that OVPs would not have a large impact on voter-turnout, and for some would even discourage participation. Furthermore, it was older respondents (ages 44+) who had a stronger positive correlation between effort expectancy and feeling empowered. I conclude by suggesting that low-voter-turnout might be best combated through efforts to improve political efficacy, and that accessibility to poll booths only accounts some of the story.

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Keywords
Online Voting, Internet Voting, U.S. Voter Turnout, Political Efficacy, Technology Adoption, UTAUT
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