Slate, the Industry Standard, and washingtonpost.com join forces to examine the effect of the Internet on Campaign 2000.
Rooney and others predict that complete voter registration will arrive on the Web by the next presidential election. But others are not so sure.
Peggy Fimms, election research specialist at the Federal Election Commission, notes that local election departments require an original hard-copy signature for other election tasks beyond voter registration. For instance, a local election department might compare the signature to another signature on a ballot petition or even a voter's signature at the polling booth in order to prevent fraud.
"The state of California did look at online voter registration, and they quickly dumped it," Fimms says. "There were significant voter-fraud concerns for one thing."
But that isn't stopping the FEC from offering its own hybrid online voter registration form, which still requires voters to mail in the signed form. Hits on the FEC's national voter registration form have soared as the election approaches. Total hits in the first five days of October already reached 50,000, compared with 71,000 in September and an average of 12,000 to 15,000 hits per month in the summer, according to the FEC.