The new technology will allow those who are far from home to participate in domestic political life and be sure that their vote is not stolen, so they say.
A private blockchain powered by the British company Smartmatic will enable registered members of the Republican party in Utah to vote at 22 March presidential primaries without coming to polling stations. After having registered online, each receives a unique PIN code to be used for voting. Submitted votes will be recorded on the blockchain and voters receive another code allowing them to see if their votes have been properly recorded. Almost 60,000 Utah Republicans have already registered for the voting, according to Wired.
The main goal of the project is to make voting more convenient and accessible for users. Indeed, many party members, especially young people, may want to express their opinion but would not bother to make it to a polling station. According to Voanews, Mike Summers, the key developer of the technology at Smartmatic, believes that all voting should eventually go online:
“Who thinks the notion of requiring people to go to a particular location at a particular time on a particular day and use a pencil and a piece of paper which is then counted by hand is a good idea? It just seems at odds with how we lead our lives today.”
Besides, the new feature provides access to voting for Utahns living in other states and even abroad. The feature is especially important for the residents of the Beehive State. More than 60% of them belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka Mormons, and it is quite common for them to go abroad as missionaries. They used to send ballots by postal service but voting online is, according to Smartmatic, much more reliable.
However, many security researchers believe that online voting carries many risks, some of which could even affect the future of democracy. Laptops, smartphones and other devices used to vote online can be attacked by hackers working in favour of one candidate over another. Moreover, there may be new possibilities for vote-buying as now online voters will be able to prove how they voted. Finally, the fact that Smartmatic alone runs and monitors online voting provokes conspiracy theories.
Utah Republicans will choose between three party presidential candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. According to latest polls, Cruz is leading in Utah, with Trump and Kasich far behind.