Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy

By R. Michael Alvarez; Thad E. Hall | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF ELECTRONIC
VOTING

In an announcement in the summer of 2004, Gilead Sciences—a leading biopharmaceutical company that develops and sells innovative antiviral drugs including Tamiflu—was added to the Standard and Poor's 500 Index, a widely watched stock market index. This stock index is designed to cover market-leading companies in leading industries, especially of the so-called large-capitalization component of the stock market.1 Selection to be included in the S&P 500 index indicates recognition that Gilead is a top company in its industrial sector, a company that in 2004 generated total revenues of just over a billion dollars. In 2004 Gilead reported spending over $300 million in “selling, general and administrative” expenses (which rose to nearly $380 million in 2006).2 It is difficult to know how much of this might have been spent on marketing and market research activities, but industry watchdogs have argued that marketing costs may be a large fraction of the overall expenditures of firms in the pharmaceutical industry.3

The importance of marketing to any corporation is such a given that today companies are now examining how their products fit into the life-styles of their customers with the goal of serving the life needs of customers in order to build loyalty (Seybold 2001). Behind this biopharmaceutical business, one that generates billions of dollars in revenues, there are substantial amounts of research done to determine how companies like Gilead should market its products, to identify who the consumers are, and to find how to best present its products to these consumers. For any company of Gilead's size and clear success so far, developing a clear marketing strategy for customers is a critical component of any business model.

We used Gilead as an example, because estimates are that the United States spent approximately a billion dollars annually on election administration in 2000, and probably even more than that today.4 Although election administrators expend roughly the same amount in public revenues as Gilead receives in revenue, it is not clear that election administrators do anything like the market studies that corporations like Gilead undertake. In fact, we are not aware of many election administrators who think of running an election in terms of business models or marketing strategies and see voters and the public as the ultimate consumers of their product.

-133-

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Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter 1 - What This Book is About 1
  • Chapter 2 - Paper Problems, Electronic Promises 12
  • Chapter 3 - Criticisms of Electronic Voting 30
  • Chapter 4 - The Frame Game 50
  • Chapter 5 - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back 71
  • Chapter 6 - The Performance of the Machines 100
  • Chapter 7 - Public Acceptance of Electronic Voting 133
  • Chapter 8 - A New Paradigm for Assessing Voting Technologies 156
  • Chapter 9 - Conclusion 178
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 217
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