Jan 22, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 524 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: The future of voting

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

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.

Go deeper:

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Above: Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow passes through security at the Capitol.

Highlights from today:

  • House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said that Democratic senators shouldn't entertain the idea of calling Hunter Biden to testify in exchange for other administration witnesses.
  • Schiff walked through an extensive timeline of the actions toward Ukraine. Many of the key facts were pulled from the House's public impeachment hearings, which Schiff admitted may not have been watched in full by many Americans — including the senators themselves.

From the room, via Axios' Alayna Treene:

  • Senators' exhaustion became palpable just an hour into the opening arguments as many were rubbing their eyes repeatedly, fidgeting in their seats, or "resting their eyes."

Go deeper.

2. What you missed
  1. 17 people have died from the new coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China. Go deeper.
  2. New Jersey became the first state to require severance pay in the event of mass layoffs. Go deeper.
  3. The UN is calling for an "immediate investigation" into the hacking of Jeff Bezos' phone. Go deeper.
  4. A Republican congressman has asked Attorney General Bill Barr to examine whether Chinese state news agency Xinhua has registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Go deeper.
  5. Kansas has suspended forward Silvio De Sousa indefinitely following a brawl near the end of their game against rival Kansas State, AP reports.
3. 1 🥜 thing

Photo: Ben Hider/Getty Images

In one of the oddest viral marketing campaigns in a while, "Mr. Peanut" is dead.

  • "Planters has killed off its 104-year-old spokesnut and plans to hold the character's funeral during the Super Bowl," AdAge reports.
  • "Mr. Peanut met his fate saving the lives of Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh in a pregame ad depicting a road trip in the character's Nutmobile gone wrong."

"A separate spot featuring Mr. Peanut's funeral will run in the game 'so the world can mourn the loss of the beloved legume together,'" Planters said.

Mike Allen