It was just yesterday that NPR reported on a plan to allow Washington state King Conservation District voters to cast ballots for an upcoming February 11 local election over the internet - including via smartphone web browsers.
Through a quirk in state law, the district runs its own elections - an expensive proposition, considering it would require mailing ballots to 1.2 million voters.
The pilot is a collaboration between the King Conservation District, King County Elections, Democracy Live, Tusk Philanthropies, and the National Cybersecurity Center. In addition, scammers have confused the problem by telling people they could vote by text message when, in fact, they couldn't.
King Conservation District elections typically draw voter turnout of no more than three percent, according to the paper.
Unlike those other experiments with internet-based voting, though, King County is not using the Voatz app, which has boasted about its use of blockchain encryption, but has been criticized by many election-security experts for being opaque about how it protects its ballots as they're transmitted back to officials.More news: Previously Developed Non-Cancer Therapies May Have Cancer-Fighting Potential
The concern stems from a bumpy online voting history. "Cyber experts I have worked with, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Washington National Guard, overwhelmingly have identified electronic transmission as too risky for voting and could leave voter information and election infrastructure impaired".
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said she was not convinced.
The new voting technology, called OmniBallot, will be used to elect a board supervisor for the King Conservation District, which serves more than 30 cities, according to its website. "Cyber experts with whom I have worked, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Washington National Guard, have overwhelmingly rated electronic transmission as too risky for voting and could compromise voter information and voting infrastructure".
This is the first-time mobile voting is available to all eligible registered voters.More news: Biden Won't Testify in Trump Impeachment Trial
Still, warnings about mobile voting abound. The elections office will then print out these digital ballots and count them alongside all the other physical ballots cast at polling places.
"We have been looking for ways to increase awareness and increase voter participation for a number of years", said Bea Covington, executive director of the conservation district. "We're providing a really large beta test of this kind of ballot access".
Rather than download an app, voters will use their birth date and name to log in to a mobile web page.
DemocracyLive is providing the portal for secure access and return of online tickets, he said.
Officials will ensure that the voter's signature on the touch-screen device matches the one on file, Wise said. Even in the highest-profile US elections, a huge chunk of the population does not show up at a polling place to vote.More news: Barcelona inquire over Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen