Make Voting Mobile and Save Our Democracy

When will we wake up to the fact that our voting system is broken?

Electronic Voting Systems

You can buy a car, book a flight, manage your banking, enter health information, and contact your congress people through web sites and apps, but you still can’t vote on your smartphone.

And, for thousands of people on Midterms Tuesday, they could barely vote in in real life as electronic voting systems throughout the country broke down.

It’s not as if state and local election commissioners didn’t know these midterms were coming. They had at least 12 months since the last local elections to prepare. They obviously didn’t. I don’t know why, and I no longer care. It’s time to take the voting system mobile.

Roughly 95% of Americans now own mobile phones, according to the most recent Pew study. That leaves just 5% without handsets, some of whom might not even be eligible to vote. My guess is that far more people own smartphones than vote in elections. In 2016, just 58% of eligible voters went to the polls. These people are everyday heroes. Why are we making it so hard for them to vote?

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Imagine a two-factor-authenticated, secure, end-to-end encrypted voting system, similar in some ways to the messaging systems on iOS and Telegram that collects your vote on a mobile phone app on one side, encrypts it, and then election officials decrypt it on the other side.

No longer would broken voting machines stop a vote. Distant polling places wouldn’t be a worry. Bad weather? No problem. You could vote from your couch, in the kitchen, on the toilet. Voters would need to sign in, either through a digital signature or biometrics, and have location tracking on, so the system could verify that you’re voting local. Absentee ballots would be a thing of the past.

Allowing local municipalities to build their own voting apps and interfaces would be a disaster. This is not a job to bid out or for anyone hoping to make a profit. Voting is the beating heart of our democracy. It should be handled with surgical care by qualified professionals who care only about the health of the heart, not the depth of their coffers.