Days after a chaotic Iowa Caucus, Democrats are now turning their focus to New Hampshire where the party’s first primary will take place today. But the problems with Iowa’s decision to use a largely unknown app have raised new questions about whether the latest technology can really be relied on to determine election result.
Despite all of the problems in Iowa, there is an election in Washington State today that marks the first time every voter can cast a ballot using a smartphone. They are determining the board of supervisors for a state-chartered district focused on natural resources that includes a few dozen cities.
They are taking part in this program called the “Mobile Voting Project,” which argues that all voters should have the option to cast their ballot using their smartphone. They say it will give new options for voters who are deployed in the military, live in rural areas, or are disabled, and typically cannot cast traditional votes. They also arguing that your vote will be protected using facial and fingerprint recognition in the same way that you access your phone or pay bills online.
The election is Washington has around 1.2 million eligible voters, so it is on a much smaller scale than a general presidential election. But they are trying to set themselves apart from the mysterious app that was used in Iowa.
If it is electronic, then it can be hacked, and as we recently learned, there are reports that Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked, so it raises questions about just how easily the average voter could be hacked if we start relying on voting by smartphone.
Cybersecurity experts are warning that hackers could infiltrate voters’ phones to changes their ballots, they could hack the system collecting ballots to change the results, or they could even create fake accounts to cast ballots.
There are also concerns about the trustworthiness of the technology that is being used, and who is funding it, especially as we saw that members of the Hillary Clinton campaign were involved in the coding of the app that led to overwhelming inconsistencies in Iowa last week.
New Hampshire is insisting it will not* be the next Iowa, and the same technology that was used to count votes last week will not be in place today.
The state is noting that with its primary, voters will check in using paper records, instead of an electronic database. Voters will submit paper ballots by either marking with a pen or using a touchscreen voting machine. And the primary will be run by state and local election officials—not by the political party as it was in Iowa.
So there is hope that New Hampshire will have drastically different results. But there are still concerns about whether other state political parties are going to try to use similar technology to what was used in Iowa, and voters will be notified ahead of time.