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New Leaders Council

The Backbone Of American Elections: Pen And Paper

Originally published on November 4, 2014 on Tech Crunch By Chris Kelly.

Apple will soon put a touchscreen computer on our wrists. High school football is being reshaped for both players and coaches by the latest video technology. And a Silicon Valley pundit is waxing visionary of a future where digital technology enables telepathy between humans. And yet, in this techno-wonderland, in the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world, today, most of us will head to the polls and use pen and paper to vote. How can this be?

To answer this question, we need to look at the role of technology in government and understand that where government once led, it has fallen behind. This is not to bash our civic institutions, but instead to make clear that technology moves faster than a process and regulation-constrained government organization — or large business for that matter — can match. The reasons for this gap in technological pace are cost and scale.

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