We can safely pay our bills, balance our bank accounts, and read confidential documents on our smartphones. But when it comes to elections, many polling places still revert back to the paper and pen. Perhaps, we only need to think back to the horrific Florida recount from 2000 and the hours-long lines during the last presidential election to consider that we really do need a makeover of the traditional voting system.
Now, a study from Rice University in Houston, Texas, has suggested that using a smartphone to cast your ballot might just be the smart change to the voting system that we need. After holding a mock election with 84 participants that included 48 smartphone users, the researchers discovered that those using devices actually made fewer mistakes on the mobile voting system compared to traditional voting methods of a electronic voting machine and the paper ballot.
The study’s authors, professors Michael D. Byrne and Philip Kortum, and former students Bryan A. Campbell and Chad C. Tossell, also suggested that smartphones could increase voter participation. “Nobody likes to wait in line at the polling place, and so mobile voting offers the opportunity to cast votes when and where it is convenient for the voter,” Kortum said in a Rice news release.
Not surprisingly, the problem with smartphone voting is the issue of security and authentication. “Creating voting systems that retain the convenience of mobile phones while still ensuring the security and anonymity we enjoy with current voting technologies will be the biggest design challenge,” Kortum said.
But since America is full of inventors and problem-solvers, we have no doubt that a solution for that is on the horizon.