Mobile voting is far from perfect, but it is better than what we have now

Election technology was catapulted into the national spotlight last month when an app developed by Shadow was used by the Democratic Party of Iowa to transmit caucus results. The application resulted in delays in reporting and great confusion. Many political experts have proclaimed that this would delay the adoption of mobile voting for years to come.

However, this assumption poses a problem: the Shadow app is not a mobile voting platform. It is an application designed to send the results from the precincts to the party headquarters. Unfortunately, the application has not been tested properly and the premises have not been trained in its use. The party's failure has done our democracy a disservice.

In each electoral cycle, experts point out a low voter turnout and accuse the Americans of not having fulfilled their civic duty. American voters are not listless and lazy. These are elderly, sick, busy caring for children or jobs that don't offer time off. Conclusion: we are making voting difficult.

In 2016, 70 million registered voters couldn't get to the polls! These people took the initiative to register but were unable to go to the polling station or send their mail by mail. And rather than making it easier to vote, states put restrictions in place that make it more difficult.

[Read: Your vote is for sale and Big Tech is selling it]

Although there are many good ideas for improving voter turnout (postal voting, advance voting and automatic registration), more attention needs to be paid to mobile voting. Absentee ballots are yesterday's solution. Absentee ballots get lost and never return to their jurisdiction – especially members of the armed forces who serve overseas in areas that don't have exactly FedEx around every corner.

Those who vote tend to be more partisan, leading to more polarized candidates emerging from party primaries who may not be the best able to govern or represent their constituents. The result is that members of Congress are more interested in scoring political points at hearings than adopting a budget. Just look at the current Congress. Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any time in the past two decades, according to Pew Research Center. This is the type of government you get when people cannot vote.

We need to focus on improving government through increased participation, and mobile voting is one of the simplest and safest ways to do this. We trust mobile apps to help us do banking, communicate with friends and family, check our blood test results and even protect our homes. So why hasn't mobile voting gained momentum – especially when successful pilot projects by new innovators like Voatz in West Virginia, Denver and County Utah proven safe and effective?

Much of the hostility can be attributed to the disproportionate voice of a handful of academics who decided decades ago to make Internet voting safe. Whatever advances are made, they will never support technology that makes voting easier. Listening to these detractors is like listening to the horse and buggy industry complaining about the invention of the automobile around 1913.


A recent Voatz MIT Review claimed to find vulnerabilities in the application. Instead of collaborating with Voatz to improve its platform, the researchers looked at an outdated version of the app that was never used in a single election. The researchers also never accessed the Voatz servers. They never ignored layers of identity checks when they tried to impersonate a real voter, intercept a ballot or alter electoral data.

The bottom line is that the researchers did not do research and they collaborated to make things better. In my opinion, it is clear that their objective was to attract the attention of the press.

These critics suffer from serious confirmation biases – never recognizing the numerous audits of the National Cybersecurity Center, election clerks, and private cybersecurity experts who have yet to find a single compromised vote in one of the national pilots led by Voatz.

Many of these critics seem to think that the current voting process is perfect. Rather than comparing mobile voting technology to the current paper-based system, prone to human error and less secure, they compare emerging solutions to a fantasy world that doesn't exist and never will.

They seem to expect mobile voting startups to offer a level of security that never existed in elections – including with paper ballots – and they seem determined to make it as difficult as possible the vote of the members of the armed forces and the handicapped people.

DefCon participants last year weaknesses exposed in almost all on paper or touch screen voting machine. In fact, a pirate breaks into a Diebold machine which is used in 18 different states, including multiple swing states, without any special tools and has gained administrator level access in minutes. Through using the latest advances in mobile technology (biometrics, blockchain, encryption, etc.), mobile voting can offer a better alternative.

Many states do not have up-to-date electoral systems. After the debacle of Chad during the 2000 presidential election in Florida, the the federal government has allocated $ 3.7 billion to help states get new voting machines for the 2004 presidential election. This means that many of the machines used by states are over 15 years old, making them vulnerable to security concerns.

States should continue to conduct pilot programs to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of mobile voting applications. As for detractors, they should consider the ways in which they can contribute to progress, rather than keeping our systems locked and vulnerable in the past.

we You have to look at the next generation of electoral technology to see what provides the highest level of security and convenience to voters because current solutions leave millions of Americans behind.

Posted on March 3, 2020 – 16:00 UTC