Washington, DC, Sep 6th, 2008 -- Ten years ago there were visions that the Internet would be a quantum leap forward in political communications, and eventually the entire campaign and election process would be done online. Of course that was in the days when we believed the Internet was a great electronic communications pipeline, and not a corrupt sewer as it is today. Voter fraud was not on the minds of the visionaries back then. They didn't appreciate the lengths the Rabid Right will use to maintain a Republican Administration. Of course the old timers will remember the good old days when the Democrats rigged the Union elections and even City and Presidential Elections.
Finally the promises of the effective reach and power of the Internet has been shown in the 2008 Presidential Election, especially by the Obama Campaign. They have taken fund raising to new heights by using the ability to collect small contributions from millions of followers.
The message of Obama's Vice Presidential running mate was circulated by text messaging and electronic distribution on a scale unheard of in past election campaigns. Every supporter, campaign worker and the world's media can be updated by a single keystroke from a single point of distribution, probably initiated by a single person. One person can communicate instantly with millions, and receive millions of dollars of financial support equally as fast.
Of course the same digital conduit can be used against a candidate, and the ability to spread misinformation and malicious, untrue rumors can cause pain and disarray in the ranks of believers. Unfortunately the purveyors of lies, such as the Swift boat Attacks, the Obama is a Muslim, and the rest of the lies aren't prosecuted as they would for similar criminal acts. I would be very happy if there was a "Truth in Campaigning" law, but as it's the politicians who would need to come together and pass it, it won't happen.
The design and functionality of a candidates website is now vitally important, and secure servers become essential, as does Cyber Security. I wonder how many emails and websites have been hacked to gather plans, statistics and strategy emails. The post of Political Cyber Security Manager will be one of the campaigns key positions in the future.
There are many whispers about vote rigging with electronic voting machines, and I hope these turn out to be false in this election. The billions of dollars of contracts, and pork make it very tempting. If any software company, or tech is caught the least that should happen is incarceration in G Bay as a Terrorist. For robbing people of their vote, and rigging elections should be Treason.
The Internet still has a long way to go to replace the physical campaigning, but with fuel and accommodation costs the appeal of a totally virtual campaign is tempting.
We are analyzing the effects of using the Internet for campaigns, and comparing today's findings with previous campaigns. From initial data the 2008 Election will be the beginning of Cyber Politics.
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