Opinion

Is the Voting App Dangerous?

With location identifiers does the voting app restrict anonymity in voting?

With the technology age, came a slew of apps and mobile media to help and hinder politics. This election we see the emergence of the Voter App.[1]This is one of those cases where I believe the app is a harm and not a help to the American People. There are several things which I find troubling. The main issues (though there are more) are manipulation, anonymity, and security.

Manipulation through an app

The Voter App is based upon a system that ask you questions regarding issues. Once you have answered questions about several topics the app then tells you who the best candidate for your vote is. Yet, this method is very highly manipulative. For example: I took the app questionnaire twice and got very different results. The questions were:

  1. The government should spy on its own citizens on the basis of increased security
  2. Taxes on wealthy people should be increased and redistributed
  3. Gun laws should be stricter. There should be background checks for shotgun and rifle sales between private parties. High capacity clips should be banned.

At this point I stopped taking the test as it appears to be slanted towards Bernie Sanders (democrat). The only way that I could get a republican candidate is to answer that I do not care about the issue. Looking at the questions you will see how the negative connotations are added. However, to be fair I decided to check on another Vote app. Voter[2] operates on the same idea as the voter app in that you are asked a series of questions and then presented with the best candidate based upon these decisions. The app had the same slanted setup.

This leaves the point of manipulation of potential voters very real. Those seeking out information on the real issues are left being driven to a particular party. Being that most politicians are not so cut and dry on issues and that some have gone from one side of an argument to another, the app does little more than show a person who the creator of the app wants to be elected.

Anonymity

Red flags always come up when I read sites that shout 100% private as one of the first things that you see. First of all, the app cannot guarantee this. Yes, the app can make your information private and claim not to share that information with someone else, but if you have a system that has hookups or windows 10 on it, you can still be identified even though the application you are using does not pinpoint your location. If we think about the manipulation above combined with the ability for a person’s personal data to be seen and recorded by the government and perhaps other parties[3] then a voting region can easily be swayed to cast their vote on intended results. To be a bit more clear. If encouraged people to use the Voting apps to find out information about the candidates and then used that app to access the location and the localized issues and present questions that were only important to that area the voting could be shifted. For example: If the app was targeting a state that is big on their freedom to bear arms, the question would not read “Do you believe in gun control” but would address another issue to sway that person to vote for a particular nominee.

Security

The voting apps available also raise a question about security and the security of the voting process. I can see another Florida recount situation happening if a candidate determines that they lost due to app manipulation of the voters. Where I am sure that these apps all have disclaimers that would make your head spin, the truth of the matter is that they do pose a risk in terms to the security of the voting process. First, the phone in the voting booth takes away from the person actually concentrating on the voting and turns it into a social media event (which if an app presents a “how the polls are” or “who are other voting for” function could sway the vote further). Secondly, even though a person may be a registered voter, the application can be created and used by those which are not registered or even American citizens which would in a way put the vote into foreign hands. Finally, if an app is to tell you who to vote for, then what is the point of the debates and advertisements and such.

All in all the voter app has proved to be a very ingenious political tool to sway the public to a particular candidate. But do not just take my word on the subject, go to the voter app website https://thevoterapp.com/ and answer the questions. I bet more than 75% of you end up having Bernie Sanders as your top pick unless of course you click that you just don’t care about the issues.

[1] https://thevoterapp.com/

[2] http://www.voter.xyz/

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/spy-agencies-scour-phone-apps-for-personal-data.html

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