Jan 22, 2020
Internet voting takes flight
A small agency in Washington state is about to break new ground by letting residents vote by smartphone.
Why it matters: The U.S. suffers from chronically low voter turnout, but experts are concerned that internet voting is vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.
- "There is a firm consensus in the cybersecurity community that mobile voting on a smartphone is a really stupid idea," computer science professor Duncan Buell told NPR, which first reported on the voting plan.
- "I don't know that I have run across cybersecurity experts whose mortgages are not paid by a mobile-voting company who think it's a good idea."
The big picture: There's a world of difference between federal elections and more local races, and this is definitely the latter.
- Voters will log in using their names and birthdays and verify their votes with a signature on their device.
- Washington state already votes by mail, so election officials have experience with signature verification, the head of the company providing the tech told NPR.
Between the lines: The officials plan to make copies of the votes for auditing, but this wouldn't solve manipulation before votes are cast.
- "If you're doing phone voting or internet voting, it's pretty much 'garbage in, garbage out,'" the former chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology told NPR.
- The other side: Concerned voters can also use the portal to fill in their ballots, print them off, and mail them in, NPR notes.