Innovation idea that is not possible today but will be in the next 15-20 years
Mobile technology is everywhere today, and their use is prolific among all the diverse populations in the U.S., even to segments of the populations that do not own a computer own a smartphone (Kumar, 2015). Electronic transactions carrying trillions of dollars, sensitive flight data, etc. take place all the time (Kumar, 2015; Safian, 2015). Safian (2015) is calling that mobile voting will be one of the many things that will occur in the next 20 years.
Thirty-three states offer online voter registration and that allowed for 6.5% of the electorate to register for 2014 up from 1.7% in 2010 (Election Assistance Commission [EAC], 2015; Jayakumar, 2015). About 19.2% of ballots in 2014 were rejected due to improper registration (EAC, 2015). Eighty cities and towns in Canada have experimented with mobile voting since 2003, and Sweden, Latvia, and Switzerland have tested the idea (Gross, 2011). Since 2005, Estonia with a mobile voting period that last about seven days and is available for all citizens had about 1/4 to 1/3 votes cast were online (Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon, 2016).
Mobile voting, can help reduce the cost of elections, reduce the need for polling places, encourage and engage disenfranchised voters, reduce the time it takes to cast a vote, reduce the need to travel to a polling place, facilitate fast results, more convenient way of collecting huge data about the voting population and their turnout, while finally allowing for easier voter registration (Jayakumar, 2015; Kumar, 2015). However, to make mobile voting a key innovation in the next 15-20 years, the main goals of mobile voting must be addressed: security, accessibility, anonymity, conveniency, and verifiable (Gross, 2011; Jayakumar, 2015; Kumar, 2015 Safian, 2015).
Forces that define the innovation that may facilitate or reduce its likelihood of success
Technological: Paper ballots allow for and provide anonymity, free from manipulation (Jayakumar, 2015). Even though, some ballots could be switched. Mobile voting devices currently have issues with security and verifiability (Jayakumar, 2015). However, other countries are working on providing democracy to all through allowing both paper and electronic ballots as previously discussed. However, mobile voting is not like other typical transactional data from a bank, where a user can correct errors (Jayakumar, 2015). Technology must take this into account. Such that, voting data is unalterable in transit from the mobile device to the main destination (Jayakumar, 2015). However, in 2014, Zimmerman and Kiniry were able to show how Alaska’s PDF Ballots are insecure, as proof that the technology is currently not as reliable to ensure a tamper free election.
Ethical: Mobile voting can allow for the lowest income workers afraid to take time off from work to vote, or single parents with no daycare options, or people without cars in a remote rural area, increase turnout during midterm and off-season elections, e.g. runoff elections (Jayakumar, 2015; Kumar, 2015). It is suggested that voter intimidation may also be resolved through mobile voting, as people can vote in the privacy of the person’s home (Kumar, 2015).
Financial: Huge cost savings could be realized because, in 2014, 732K poll workers were hired for 114K polling locations, which amounts to 6.4 people per polling location (Election Assistance Commission [EAC], 2015).
- Election Assistance Commission. (2015). The 2014 EAC election administration and voting survey comprehensive report: A report to the 114th congress. Retrieved from http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/Page/2014_EAC_EAVS_Comprehensive_Report_508_Compliant.pdf
- Gross, D. (2011). Why can’t American’s vote online? Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/08/tech/web/online-voting/
- Jayakumar, A. (2015). Can you vote for the next president on your smartphone? Not just yet. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-it/can-you-vote-for-the-next-president-on-your-smartphone-not-just-yet/2015/04/04/8028a174-d715-11e4-8103-fa84725dbf9d_story.html
- Kumar, S. (2015). How mobile technology could revolutionize the U.S. voting system. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-it/can-you-vote-for-the-next-president-on-your-smartphone-not-just-yet/2015/04/04/8028a174-d715-11e4-8103-fa84725dbf9d_story.html
- Safian, R. (2015). Twenty Predictions for the next 20 years. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3052872/twenty-predictions-for-the-next-20-years
- Vabariigi Valimiskomisjon (2016). Statistics about internet voting in Estonia. Retrieved from http://www.vvk.ee/voting-methods-in-estonia/engindex/statistics
- Zimmerman, D. M. & Kiniry, J. R. (2014). Modifying an Off-the-Shelf Wireless Router for PDF Ballot Tampering. Retrieved from http://galois.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/technical-hack-a-pdf.pdf