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Voting by Smartphone -- Yea or Nay?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

People can do almost everything on their cell phones, but that doesn't mean they should vote with them.

That's the debate going on in West Virginia, where officials plan to allow voters living overseas to do it via smartphone. Security experts, on the other hand, think that's not smart at all.

With the 2018 election season in full-swing, it may turn out to be 2016 all over again.

"Horrific Idea"

The last presidential election may go down in some history books as the election the Russians won. It was certainly a loser for Facebook, which saw its stock plummet in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Joseph Hall, an election security expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the West Virginia plan is a "horrific idea."

"It's internet voting on people's horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote," he said.

The problem is not just vulnerability to hacking. It's a lack of accountability.

The Paper Trail

Traditionally, election programs in the United States created a paper trail to back up the results of electronic machines. Legislators introduced a bill earlier this year to get rid of insecure paperless machines.

"With the 2018 elections just around the corner, Russia will be back to interfere again," said co-sponsor Sen. Kamala Harris.

West Virginia, in the meantime, has already done a test run on voting by mobile phone. It gave voters from two counties the option of voting by mail, fax or email.

Officials reported that it worked well, and they plan to open it up to West Virginians deployed overseas in November. That probably doesn't include any military in Russia.

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