Home Is There a Future For Voting on iPads?

Is There a Future For Voting on iPads?

Today is Election Day in the United States and for the first time ever, some voters are casting their ballot using the iPad, the Associated Press reports. In a special primary election in Oregon, disabled residents will have the option of voting on Apple’s tablet computer, which has several accessibility advantages for such voters.

As revolutionary and exciting as this may sound at first blush, the program is pretty limited. The iPads are administered by the state and voters must have one brought to their homes in order to vote this way. The final ballots are printed out and sent in via mail. Still, this is the first time a tablet voting initiative of this kind has been used in the United States. Is tablet-based voting something we should expect to see more of in the future?

It’s worth noting that the United States falls behind a few other Western democracies when it comes to online voting. Aside from a few experiments here and there, U.S. voters cannot cast their ballots via the Internet, due primarily to security and fraud-related concerns. Even so, Canada and a handful of European countries have implemented Web-based voting to some degree.

Blazing the trail in online voting is Estonia, according to CNN. The small baltic state has allowed its citizens to cast ballots on the Web for four years.

If security is such a serious impediment to browser-based voting, perhaps Apple’s much-maligned “closed” ecosystem can provide an antidote to the wild, open Web.

We could imagine a state-developed voter registration and balloting app down the line, but such a solution wouldn’t be without it’s challenges. For one, the iPad still costs $500 and tablet user adoption is only at 11% in the U.S. So much for a revolutionary explosion is democratic participation.

Even though iOS is typically viewed as more secure than some other platforms, no system is free of malware or hackers. Anybody who’s had their iTunes account hacked knows this all too well. For any kind of Internet-based ballot box to work, whether its based on desktops, tablets, smartphones or all three, will need some serious security measures in place. Even the multi-tiered security on banking apps wouldn’t be enough to ensure votes are cast and counted fairly.

That’s not to say that such a challenge is insurmountable. Developers have solved so many of life’s little problems, and even a few big ones. Who’s to say democracy can’t be next?

What do you think? Can you see a future in which mobile and tablet-based voting is a reality? Would you want to do it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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