Elections In Science Fiction

A fictional account of electronic voting offered on a nationwide datanet is detailed in John Brunner's prescient 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider:

(First edition cover for The Shockwave Rider)

From 0700 local until 1900 every veephone on the continent would display, over and over, two propositions, accompanied by a spoken version for the benefit of the illiterate. Most would be in English, but some would be in Spanish, some in Amerind languages, some in Chinese ... the proportions being based on the latest continental census. After each repetition would follow a pause, during which any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a "yes" or "no."
(Read more about Internet electronic voting)

Isaac Asimov described the Multivac computer with remarkable predictive abilities in his 1955 story Franchise:

(Original cover for Franchise by Isaac Asimov)

"...sometimes it took all night to count what everyone said and people were impatient. So they invented special machines which could look at the first few votes and compare them with the votes from the same places in previous years. That way the machine could compute how the total vote would be and who would be elected. You see?" She nodded. "Like Multivac."

"The first computers were much smaller than Multivac. Bu the machines grew bigger and they could tell how the election would go from fewer and fewer votes. Then, at last, they built Multivac and it can tell from just one voter."

In Cities in Flight, James Blish describes elections that are overseen by the City Fathers, artificially intelligent computers that are centuries old.

(Artistic cover for Earthman, Come Home by James Blish)

"HAVE MESSRS. HAZLETON AND CARREL ANY FURTHER ADDITIONS TO THEIR PLATFORMS?" the City Fathers blared, their vodeur-voice penetrating flatly into every cranny of the hurtling city... "IF NOT, AND THERE ARE NO ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES, WE ARE READY TO PROCEED WITH THE TABULATION."


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