National: “A Horrifically Bad Idea”: Smartphone Voting Is Coming, Just in Time for the Midterms | Vanity Fair
Almost a year ago, the Department of Homeland Security alerted roughly half of all U.S. states that their election systems had been the targets of hackers linked to Russia. Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, later confirmed the attacks. “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated,” she told NBC News in February. Even worse, experts have warned that Russia’s attempts at meddling did not end in 2016. “They’re still very active—in making preparations, at least—to influence public opinion again,” Feike Hacquebord, a security researcher at Trend Micro, told the Associated Press in January. The Trump administration, meanwhile, is doing painfully little to prevent future attacks. The president’s repeated denials of Russian meddling is another form of malign neglect. With less than three months to go until Americans return to the polls en masse, the United States remains deeply vulnerable to any hackers who might like to cast a vote of their own. Enter Voatz. With a name reminiscent of a plot device in Idiocracy, Voatz is a mobile election-voting-software start-up that wants to let you vote from your phone. In the upcoming midterm elections, West Virginians serving overseas will be the first in the U.S. to be able to vote via a smartphone app using Voatz technology, CNN reported Monday. The Boston-based company raised $2.2 million earlier this year, helped along by buzzwords such as “biometrics” and “blockchain,” which it claims allows it to secure the voting process. Its app reportedly requires voters to take and upload a picture of their government-issued I.D., along with a selfie-style video of their face, which facial-recognition technology then uses to ensure the person pictured in the I.D. and the person entering a vote are the same. The ballots are anonymized and recorded on the blockchain.