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Is the Wii the future of voting?

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

Nintendo Co. Ltd. has added a new online channel to its Wii Menu that it calls Everybody Votes.

Wii owners with an internet-connected console will be able to vote in unscientific global and regional online polls through the channel on subjects that range from the topical to the humorous.

New region-specific questions will be added every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and global questions will be updated twice a month. Some polls will offer results segmented by province or gender.

Up to six people per household can vote on a question by using their personalized Mii avatars and Wii owners can submit their own poll questions for consideration.

Could this be the thin edge of the wedge for online voting?

Elections Canada stated in a 2003 feasibility study of online voter registration that it was time to implement such a system with an eye to online voting:

Online voter registration would offer strategic opportunities for Elections Canada to position itself for the investigation of electronic voting, to establish a substantial Government On-Line presence, to develop mechanisms for real-time exchange of data with partners, and to enhance the quality of the National Register of Electors.

Nintendo's easy-to-use, motion-controlled console appears to be making inroads with non-traditional gamers, so it's conceivable that the comfort level people develop with the technology combined with online security could pave the way for internet voting from the home.

Between an aging population set to balloon over the next few decades and a generation raised with the internet, online voting could be a reality before too long.

One of the many questions this raises is whether candidates in future elections would be identified by name, photo or Mii.

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