(NBC News) As Iowa Democrats bounce back from a technical debacle that derailed its caucus results, an experiment is underway in King County, Washington to test smartphone voting.
Voters in King County can now cast a ballot in one upcoming election from their smartphones.
It’s the first time all registered voters have had access to mobile voting, previously only available to deployed military or voters with disabilities.
“It’s an expansion from five or 10,000 people to 1.2 million people, which makes it the biggest experiment in democracy in probably decades,” says Bradley Tusk of Tusk Philanthropies.
Tusk Philanthropies is funding the effort to expand mobile voting with technology developed by Democracy Live and Voatz.
It uses either facial recognition, a fingerprint or a signature to verify the voter’s identity.
It’s been successful so far, with independent audits showing no issues in all eight test elections across five states.
“My hope is that if all goes well, by the 2028 presidential election everyone can vote on their phones safely and securely,” Tusk says.
Still, the trouble with a different app that delayed Iowa caucus results is strengthening the argument of those wary of using using mobile technology in elections.
“These online applications have an enormous attack surface,” warns cybersecurity expert Jesse Rothstein. “I’m skeptical that it’s even possible to build a completely secure online voting app.”
Proponents of the technology point out that current systems are not without risk, and low voter turnout remains a problem.
“I’d probably start with making election day a holiday before I jumped straight to mobile voting,” Rothstein adds.
The King County election using the app is for their conservation district, essentially elected park officials.
The average voter turnout for that is only about one to three percent, so it’s a relatively low stakes test of mobile voting technology.
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