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Smartmatic's Voting with a Selfie App Could Encourage Higher Voter Participation

LONDON, ENGLAND / ACCESSWIRE / May 17, 2017 / Smartmatic recently unveiled an innovation that could change the way we vote; an app that allows users to vote with a selfie.


Here's how it works: a voter snaps a selfie via their smartphone. By coupling the facial biometric data with a government issued ID (e.g. drivers license or passport), the app creates a personal digital identity on the voter's smartphone. The user can then sign in via facial recognition and cast their vote from anywhere in the world.

Mike Summers, program director for Internet voting at Smartmatic, and director of the Smartmatic-Cybernetica Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting, says this technology could mean an increase in voters. He says, "This app could change the landscape of voting. People are more mobile than ever before and the democratic process needs to evolve to meet the needs of modern citizens. Allowing people to vote with a selfie using a secure digital identity can strengthen the voting process and make it more accessible."

Since people use the internet to perform most their daily tasks, why not add voting to the list? Using a selfie to vote could eliminate identity fraud, encourage more people to vote, and allow for a more secure, accurate, and transparent voting process.

Chief Executive of the Institute for Digital Democracy, Areeq Chowdhury, told Newsbeat that the app would encourage younger generations to vote. "It would make politicians pay attention more to groups who'd be enfranchised more by this method of voting," he said. "We're banking online, shopping online, even dating online, so it doesn't make sense to continue with a process that is offline, that is stuck in the 1880s."

Is It Safe?

We do everything online. We register for doctors' appointments, pay important bills, even pay taxes online. But voting online is still not an option in most countries, and one of the many concerns with steering away from traditional voting is the safety of technology. Summers says this new technology is even more secure than standard online banking or shopping systems and uses additional cryptographic protections to ensure voter privacy and protect against vote tampering.

Estonia is the only country where online voting has become widely used. Attempted attacks by Russian cyber criminals is not a new thing in Estonia, yet the country has faced this successfully since 2005. Switzerland is following closely the lead of Estonia in terms of online voting.


Replacing Ballots with Selfies

Chris Skidmore MP, the government minister responsible for elections, told Newsbeat that the paper ballot system is here to stay. "We believe that the current paper and pen method is the best way forward. It means that each individual's vote is counted equally, one citizen, one vote." The paper ballot system, where voters put a cross in a box next to the name of their chosen candidate, has been in place since 1872.

Although some believe paper ballots should remain the preferred voting system, others argue declining turnouts are a clear signal we should be bold when it comes to election modernization. Along these lines, Michael McDonald, associate professor at the University of Florida, reported that approximately 58.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2016 US presidential election. Where were the other 42 percent of voters?

Traditional election systems have proven inefficient over time. "Lines are often too long, poll workers are often confused, administration of polling sites is often challenging," New York State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh told PBS. "I would say there's no magic bullet. But New York has systematically failed to have an election system to keep up with election practices."

Smartmatic's voting app would eliminate the long lines, interaction with poll workers, and people having to physically visit a polling site. However, voters may have to wait until the government is on board for this type of convenience.

SOURCE: European News Daily