Mobile voting systems have the ability to operate alongside existing voting systems, both manual and automated. It allows registered voters to vote from a mobile device, opposed to having to go to a polling location. Mobile votes are instantly counted towards the total, which allows people to see the votes as they are coming in, opposed to other voting systems, which require waiting until all votes can be counted.
Mobile voting is a form of electronic voting, which is defined as any voting system that relies on electronic submission. Electronic voting is touted as being more advantageous due to the convenience to the voter and the efficiency in counting votes. However, despite the advantages, there are those that question the security and reliability of mobile voting.
Traditional Voting Systems
Traditional voting is a long and somewhat complicated process. It involves calling for elections, registering candidates and voters, designating and setting up polling stations, training polling workers, having voters show up at specific locations during specific times to vote, counting up all the votes, and officially declaring the results based on the final numbers.
Adding to this is the inclusion of absentee and provisional ballots, which are often not fully collected until after the election date. While these votes are still counted, it is often not until after a winner is declared. If the final votes are close, declaration of a winner may be delayed until all the outstanding ballots are collected and counted.
Although this traditional voting system has been used for generations, some of the flaws have never been fully corrected. It is possible that electronic voting, specifically mobile voting, represents the future of voting processes.
Benefits of a Mobile Voting System
Mobile voting systems address many of the shortcomings of traditional voting systems. Here are a few of the benefits of a mobile voting system:
- Cost.Mobile voting cuts down on cost by reducing printed ballots.
- Participation. Because mobile voting is significantly more convenient, more voters would be likely to participate. They wouldn’t have to take time out of their busy day to wait at a polling station.
- Speed. Mobile votes are instantly counted, which dramatically cuts down on the time needed to tally votes.
- Accuracy. Mobile voting cuts down on miscast votes.
- Accessibility. Mobile voting makes voting more accessible to the elderly, disabled, and sick. Mobile voting can also make voting more accessible to non-English speakers.
Concerns Regarding Mobile Voting
Mobile voting does come with some risks and concerns regarding security and reliability. The following are a few of those concerns:
- Security. Electronic systems can be hacked and manipulated. Even with the best security, there is a concern that voting outcomes could be tampered with remotely. Additionally, safeguards would have to be in place to ensure that each voter is only able to cast one vote. There is also a concern that non-registered voters would be able to vote under a registered voter’s login.
- Technical problems. There is a risk of technical problems and errors that may hinder the voting process or impact the election results. Because mobile voting utilizes a network, it could be vulnerable to problems in the network. If the network became unavailable all those intending to vote through the mobile system may be blocked from voting. Additionally, technical problems can be hard to predict, which means there may be no safeguards in place to prevent them.
- Unreliable. Without physical ballots to go back to, when an election is challenged or a recount is demanded, there would be nothing to go back and recount. The numbers provided by the electronic system would be the only source.
The Reality of Mobile Voting
Despite these risks, many countries are looking into the possibility of mobile voting, and some countries are already doing trial runs of electronic voting systems. Electronic methods for communicating, shopping, and doing business are already dominating their respective fields. Electronic voting methods are the future of the voting process.
Although there is legitimacy to the concerns regarding mobile voting, the benefits are undeniable. As more companies and governments choose to move to mobile voting, the systems will evolve to keep up with the constantly evolving needs for security. Mobile voting does not have to completely replace traditional voting processes. It can complement the traditional process, which will provide all the benefits of mobile voting while still giving people an option.
Mobile voting systems allow registered voters to cast their vote from a mobile device eliminating the need to go to a polling station. It is believed that this added convenience will result in a higher voter turnout as well as reduce costs and counting errors. It also has the potential of increasing accessibility for voters that are elderly, disabled or otherwise homebound. Despite these benefits, concerns over the security and reliability of mobile voting has preventing it from being widely adopted.
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