Voter turnout in the U.S. during the last midterm election hit the lowest point since the 1940s. The number of Americans heading to the polls each election has been declining for the last fifty years and lawmakers have recently been pushing efforts to keep even more people away from the polls. People do not exercise their right to vote for various reasons, some of which are easier to solve than others. According to a U.S. … Voters can already use their smartphones in some cities to simplify daily tasks like tracking how long they have to wait for a bus or train. So why shouldn’t information about polling places be available online? Joe Kiniry, the principal investigator with computer science company Galois, said that while he was working in Denmark, he helped to build a system voters could use to figure out the length of lines at polling places. “Of course it’s doing that by watching people’s cell phones as they walk into the polling place and figuring out how long it took you to get to the front of the line, how long it took you to leave,” he said. “So in the adoption of this cheap, easy technology… we’ve now traded off the cost and efficiency of an election with the privacy of voters.”
Kiniry also discussed the possibility of a system which would track in real-time election machines that malfunction or stop working. “If a machine goes offline, everybody knows it,” he said, although he added that there is likely to be resistance from vendors who do not want to reveal trade secrets.
… While the ease of voting on the internet is appealing, privacy experts have cautioned against rushing to implement the technology due to cybersecurity concerns. Still, online voting is already standard procedure in some countries, such as Estonia, and U.S. lawmakers have been moving toward incorporating more technology in our elections.
But Kiniry is also working on an internet voting study which is looking into a form of remote voting that uses an “end-to-end verifiability” program. If the project is able to meet security and usability standards, it could be used by the public to vote from their computers or internet-enabled devices, he said. “You often find that a system can be secure or it can be usable. We’re trying to figure out how it could be both.”