The Student Blog Post series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
The focus of this article is on one of the key events that took place shortly after the election of President Donald Trump. Not long after Trump took the presidency, the Canadian Immigration website crashed due to a larger than normal volume of inquiries. It was suggested that the crash occurred when US citizens looked to move to Canada after Trump became president.
Some claimed that Canada took the immigration site offline, but later on, media outlets regularly reported that the website crashed because of the influx of web traffic. Canada wasnt alone. Two US states, Colorado and North Carolina, both experienced similar technical problems due to the Internet being used in such a large volume at one time.
Officials were unable to access Colorado’s voter registration database for about half an hour on election Tuesday afternoon. This held up the voting in the state, as the clerks receiving mail-in ballots could not verify the signatures in their database. Lynn Bartel went on to explain that in-person votes also had to temporarily be treated as being “provisional” while the website was down. North Carolina’s State Board of Elections was also forced to switch from using an electronic voting check-in system to a paper-based one at several of its precincts after experiencing technical problems.
I believe a critical question to ask concerning the two cases found in the US is: do we rely too heavily upon technology to do a proper job of representing the American people during an election year? What we saw in these instances was a system failure due to a large flux of Internet usage during the polling process. It is dangerous to think whatever amount of votes could have been lost in the process. It was fortunate that the problem occurred early on Election Day and not 30 minutes before the polls closed. A lot of voters may not have had their vote counted if the problem occurred too late in the day. It isnt always a technical error that prohibits us from voting.
Lets say it wasnt a matter of the website crashing, we should still think about if the country relies too much on technology to be and stay engaged in our political system. We should think about the opportunity and ability of American voters when asking this question. If I cant find the time to make it to a polling center for my vote to count, I lose that opportunity. Yes, mail-in ballots are an option, but most Americans dont know that mail-in ballot signatures must be verified in the states database before they can be counted, thus adding to the list of dependencies on technology. Some citizens cant make it to the polling station to vote, so mail-in ballots really matter a lot to some people.
We discussed if voters are rational beings, and a lot of evidence suggests that we are. We weigh the costs and benefits of our decisions and choose who and what we think will maximize the benefits. We try to select representatives and issues we find important. But do voters take action they think that benefits them, but leaves them worse off than they were? When it comes to moving to Canada after the election, I started to wonder if the American voters were indeed as rational as wed like to believe. With a little bit of research, it is easy to see why moving would not be a good idea for the average citizen. First, Canadas unemployment rate is two percent higher than the United States. That being said, those who move need to consider who they know in Canada to network and get a job.
I think the American people need to think a little more about their decision to move to Canada if they plan to do so. Reweigh the costs and benefits of the effect Trumps presidency will actually have but also how the move affects your life, not just monetarily but physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Kristopher Freeman is a second-year transfer student in his fourth-year of his political science college career, which is projected to conclude end of the fall quarter. He enjoys cooking, arts and crafts, playing computer games, and learning about political science. He plans on having a long-term career in political science with an emphasis in international relations.