Mobile Voting Proposal Has Lawmakers Worried

Mobile voting is coming to the US, but is that wise? A proposed Senate bill in West Virginia will introduce electronic voting for people with disabilities, enabling them to cast their vote in the 2020 US election even when they can’t get to a voting station. According to local media, local officials are likely to use an existing mobile tool called Voatz, which allows people to place electronic votes using their smartphones. It’s an app that officials in Virginia already use to register votes for overseas military personnel.

However, the use of any Internet-based voting tool goes directly against the advice of the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. In September 2018, it published a report that said: “At the present time, the Internet (or any network connected to the Internet) should not be used for the return of marked ballots. Further, Internet voting should not be used in the future until and unless very robust guarantees of security and verifiability are developed and in place, as no known technology guarantees the secrecy, security, and verifiability of a marked ballot transmitted over the internet.”

The app, which voters have already attempted to hack, has drawn concern from Congressional leaders. Sen. Ron Wyden wrote to the NSA in November 2019 asking for a security review of the app, which is now entering into pilot programs in other states. Voatz’, response? Bring it.

Voatz records votes on a blockchain, which it says enables votes to be tracked and tallied from end-to-end. However, there are still other dangers to consider such as the compromise of smartphones running voting apps.

Depending on who ends up running the country in 2020, online voting could become more prevalent. While some would-be presidents like Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang call for mandatory paper ballots, Yang also calls for mobile Blockchain-based voting as a way to speed up and secure the electoral process.

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