Technical Difficulties Abound for New Digital Voting SystemPosted on: May 9, 2019, by : Jeff Turner
By Jeff Turner
Tuesday’s Municipal Primary election in Indianapolis saw the debut of a new digital voting system, one that allowed voters to cast their ballots at any polling location in Marion County. The process was designed to be more streamlined and to reduce wait times. However, the system proved to be wrought with problems, serious ones that could have been disastrous had the new system debuted during a general election cycle.
According to WTHR, Marion County had 4,000 voters cast their ballots early or absentee, and there were no widely reported difficulties with the process. However, for those who arrived early in the morning to vote, there were delays in regards to the devices used for scanning Driver’s Licenses and other government issued forms of ID required for voting. As for the actual casting of a ballot, there appeared to be a learning curve present for both poll workers and voters whom at times struggled with the new process.
The Election Inspector spoke of several “notch complaints,” referring to issues voters were having with sticking the notched end of the ballot into the voting machine as intended, technical difficulties essentially. There was also confusion about accessing the digital ballot, some voters it would seem simply more accustomed to having a traditional paper ballot to fill out.
Other poll workers voiced their frustrations in regards to the new digital voting process as well.
“I’m really upset about having to use an unsecured internet connection,” said Jeff Iacobazzi, Election Clerk at the Hinkle Fieldhouse polling center. This is in reference to issues that plagued every Marion County polling center. According to one individual, the Verizon Mifi network was down at various intervals during the day. This resulted in the election workers at the Hinkle Fieldhouse location to have to utilize an unsecured public network normally utilized by Butler University guests, making it possible for a hacker to tamper with the voter list.. “They need to make sure there is secure WiFi…(this is a) security risk I think. There were states in both the 2016 and 2018 elections that had their voter rolls hacked and I imagine it would be very easy (in this case),” Iacobazzi went on to say, then adding “Half the students on campus would be smart enough (to hack the system).”
The particular circumstances were unique to that polling location in regards to the voter rolls open to potentially being hacked by Butler students. But it did bring to mind a question many people have been asking since the 2016 Presidential election, can vote totals be changed?
“No, absolutely not. There’s no WiFi connection (to the machines that actually do the counting).”
What can be done to avoid future issues? As Iacobazzi suggested, utilizing a stable, secured internet connection appears to be most vital solution. This would provide needed security and minimize the risk for potential hacking. Other issues, fitting the ballots in the machines, scanning ID’s, and related technical difficulties will probably be ironed out as people acclimate themselves to the new process.
Fortunately this was only a primary municipal election, as these issues could have proved extremely problematic, according to multiple sources.. There’s still plenty of time to correct the problems that arose during this municipal primary, and avoid future issues with the new digital voting system.