Fingerprints can now be used to unlock smart phones, car engines, even guns. Why not ballots, too? A New Mexico legislator has just proposed that his state’s election officials study the feasibility of a biometric voter identification system. The idea is simple enough: Rather than require voters to show a particular type of document that not everyone possesses, the law could require election officials to collect a piece of information — a finger image or an eye scan — from all voters, which would confirm their identity at the polls. The political appeal of the idea is clear: Republicans would have the ID laws they claim are needed to protect against voter fraud. And Democrats would have a system that doesn’t disproportionately hurt minorities and the poor. Both parties could declare victory in the war over voter ID and move on.
A software glitch on the Colorado Secretary of State’s mobile-optimized website prevented nearly 800 people using tablets and mobile phones from registering to vote. Secretary of State Scott Gessler said the problem occurred between Sept. 14 and Monday because of a software update to the site. The update indavertently caused a problem that prevented 779 people from registering, said Gessler, a Republican. “Frankly, our office did not engage in enough user testing before we rolled out a software fix,” he said, placing the blame squarely on his office. The office now has fixed the problem, having discovered it Monday, but it doesn’t know who the people are who tried to register. That’s why Gessler is asking people who think they registered during the days in question to check their registrations at govotecolorado.com.
A new app released by President Obama’s campaign team has raised privacy fears. The free Obama for America app – which can be downloaded for the iPhone and Android – gives users the first name, last initial, gender and addresses of registered Democrats. “Sign up to canvass—then get started right away with a list of voters in your neighborhood. Access scripts and enter feedback and responses in real time as you go,” the campaign states on its website. The app has raised the ire of privacy advocates. “It doesn’t make it right just because it’s legal,” Shaun Dakin, CEO and founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, told The Washington Post. “Anybody can get this. There’s no way to prevent anyone from downloading this.” Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Reuters that people with bad intentions can easily access the app. “The concern is making it available to people who may have bad intent and that fear could deter people from giving money,” Brookman explained to Reuters.
South Korea’s liberal opposition, bolstered by the under-40s and power of social media, could spring a surprise win in this week’s parliamentary elections despite opinion polls that show it tied with the ruling conservatives. Experts say traditional pollsters base their projections on owners of fixed telephone lines, whereas people in their 20s and 30s, who form 37 percent of the voting population in the world’s most wired country, rarely use them. The young, more likely to carry a Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone in their pockets, are mostly liberal and their views are expressed and spread online, often by their smartphones.