Jan 22, 2020

Internet voting takes flight

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:

Go deeper

Black Americans' competing crises

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

For many black Americans, this moment feels like a crisis within a crisis within a crisis.

The big picture: It's not just George Floyd's killing by police. Or the deaths of EMT Breonna Taylor and jogger Ahmaud Arbery. Or the demeaning of birdwatcher Christian Cooper and journalist Omar Jimenez. Or the coronavirus pandemic's disproportionate harm to African Americans. It's that it's all happening at once.

Amnesty International: U.S. police must end militarized response to protests

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Amnesty International issued a statement on Sunday morning calling for an end to militarized policing in several U.S. cities and the use of "excessive force" against demonstrators protesting police brutality.

Why it matters: The human rights group said police across the country were "failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters."

2 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country

Protestors rally in Minneapolis. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Health experts fear that massive protests against police brutality in major cities around the United States could result in new coronavirus outbreaks due to the close proximity of demonstrators, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. has already recorded more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world. A potential surge in cases stemming from the protests would come as many states are weeks into their phased reopening plans.