LANSING (AP) — Internet voting drew more older voters than
expected and helped Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
more than Howard Dean, Michigan Democratic Executive Chairman Mark
Brewer said yesterday.

“The bulk of the early voting was for Dean,” Brewer
said. But two-thirds of the 46,543 people who voted over the
Internet held onto their ballots until the Feb. 7 Democratic
caucuses or just a few days before, so early voting didn’t
turn out to be much of an advantage for the former Vermont
governor.

The average age of Internet voters participating in the caucuses
was 48.5 years. Although roughly 6,000 Internet voters were 30 or
younger, many more voters were in their late 40s or in their 50s,
party statistics show.

Kerry originally objected to letting Michigan use Internet
voting in its Democratic presidential caucuses, arguing along with
most of the other presidential candidates — except Dean and
Wesley Clark — that it would disenfranchise low-income and
minority voters.

Michigan was the first state to have such an extensive Internet
voting period, lasting nearly five weeks, and the only one to use
Internet voting this year.

In the end, the Massachusetts senator got 22,999 of his 84,214
votes through electronic voting and 49 percent of the Internet
ballots cast, while Dean got 8,944 votes of the 26,994 he
collected, or 19 percent of the Internet votes. U.S. Sen. John
Edwards, who came in third, got 15 percent.

Many observers had expected Dean to dominate the Internet voting
since many of his supporters were younger voters or affluent,
college-educated voters familiar with the Internet.

Michigan State University political science professor David
Rohde said that “if Dean had been more competitive, then the
number of younger voters may have been at least marginally
higher.”

But Dean already was reeling from Kerry’s successes in the
early contests by the time Michigan held its caucuses, and Kerry
easily walked away with the race. Dean suspended his campaign
Wednesday after failing to win any of the 17 primaries or caucuses
held so far.

Brewer said 28 percent of Michigan voters used the Internet,
while 14 percent voted by mail and 58 percent voted in person at
caucus sites. Problems arose when six caucus sites in Detroit and
possibly others elsewhere around the state were closed or moved,
and some people who applied for Internet or mail-in ballots never
received them.

But Brewer said he thinks the overall process worked well.

“I liked the mix of voting options,” he said.
“We’re not aware of any security or integrity problems.
… Having a quarter of the vote come in over the Internet was
good.”

Mark Grebner of Practical Political Consulting in East Lansing
also said he found no security problems with the mix of caucuses
and Internet and mail-in votes. But the Democrat said other snafus
kept some people from voting.

He criticized party officials for sending out ballots by bulk
mail the first two weeks of January, noting that 10 percent of all
bulk mail never arrives.

“It appears not all the ballots were mailed promptly, or
at least they didn’t arrive promptly,” he said.

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