Democracy can, environmentally speaking, be a burden when you consider that an estimated 126 million Americans voted in the 2012 General Election. Using the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator and assuming that each person consumed at least one sheet of low-quality copy paper to cast their ballot and that at least half of the used ballots were recycled, the environmental implications are huge:
- 1,185 tons of wood used
- 10,950,000 gallons of water consumed
- 17,250 million BTUs of energy used
- 981,800 pounds of solid waste produced
And this is only the start of the list. It does not account for the 27,500 pounds of harmful NOx, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, hazardous air pollutants, and volatile organic compounds that accelerate climate change!
Although this estimate is very rough, it is also conservative. Many states and localities require one ballot to be printed for each active registered voter, leaving millions of unused ballots around the country each election cycle. Also, given the private nature of electoral ballots, it is unlikely that 50% of ballots are properly recycled.
Online Voting is Environmentally Friendly
Online voting systems are, by essence, paperless. This means they are extremely environmentally friendly, using only electricity that is already being used. The servers and computers necessary for Follow My Vote’s voting system are already being used and are in the hands of average citizens. The current waste of natural resources and production of noxious pollutants is simply unnecessary given the existence of secure and verifiable online voting systems like Follow My Vote’s. Using our voting system is just one more way we can reduce our impact and become more environmentally friendly.