also politely ignores the resistance from the professional political class - parties, pollsters and at least some politicians. Its well-honed and carefully timed campaigns would be undermined by authenticated voters exercising the franchise with their thumbs - on a device, and at a time and place, of their choosing.

There is a hopeful lesson in the Northwest about changes in the order of things where elections are concerned. Amid predictions that it would never work, Oregon ran its first state level vote-by-mail experiment in 1980. In 1995, Oregon was the first to use vote-by-mail to decide a federal race. It saved the state $1 million and attracted a 66 percent voter turnout - compared with the national average of 49 percent that year. After tussles between the Legislature and the governor, a citizen initiative replaced the traditional polling place with mail-in ballots as the exclusive way of running elections in 1998.

There have been strikingly few complaints of fraud or undue influence, and signatures on the ballots are checked electronically against those on voter registration cards.

It will never happen, they said. But it did - and it could again.

Paul W. Taylor, Ph.D., , is the chief strategy officer of the Center for Digital Government, former deputy state CIO of Washington and a veteran of startups.

Paul W. Taylor  |  Contributing Writer