– [Narrator] Registered
voters in the Seattle area just had the chance to
participate in what officials say is the country’s most extensive
use of mobile voting yet. Over 95% of the election’s ballots were submitted electronically,
via app or website. – Supporters of mobile voting say, “If you let people cast their
ballots on their phones, “they’re a lot more likely to do it “because it’ll be easier
and take less time.” – [Narrator] But some experts warn that voting on our phones
creates new privacy and security problems that
we don’t have solutions for. Will it always be too risky
for a presidential election or is nationwide mobile
voting only a matter of time? – At the end of the day, voting
software is still software. And all software is buggy. And there will always be
errors and security holes. It’s impossible to build perfect software. – [Narrator] A tech company
called Democracy Live built the system that
Washington voters used during the recent pilot. And while Democracy Live
agrees that both software and humans can be
fallible, they’re confident their system is still safer than some methods currently in use. – King County, which is Washington’s state most populous county recently
allowed mobile voting for over one million voters
in a small, local election. Voters could use their
phones or their laptops to log onto a portal,
open up a ballot and then they could choose to submit
that ballot electronically, which is what we would
think of as mobile voting. – [Narrator] Supporters of mobile voting say that it will make the
process more convenient and boost voter turnout. In King County, election officials say that turnout this year
was double what it was for this election last year. Most of the roughly 6,500 ballots were submitted electronically. Only 209 were submitted
by mail or drop box. – If I had to choose between
submitting a paper ballot or using the app on my phone, I actually would do the paper ballot. We have a lot of experience
with paper ballots over time. And so there’s kind of a
big field test out there that’s been going on for decades. And we know that it’s not easy to change a large number of paper ballots. My concern about the digital environment is that once those votes are collected in a single database, the possibility that someone could manipulate
a large number of votes at once is much higher. Even more importantly is
the fact that other people would potentially fear
that that would happen. – [Narrator] Even under
the best circumstances, introducing new election technology can add a new layer of doubt to results. – In Iowa’s caucus’, the
state Democratic Party wanted to use an app to
collect and report results because they thought it would
make it faster and easier. Unfortunately, based on our reporting, the app wasn’t put through enough testing and there wasn’t enough planning. So it ended up having glitches that have really caused problems for figuring out what
the results were in Iowa. – There was a sense that
maybe it just didn’t work the way it was supposed to work. And just introducing that amount of doubt into the system delegitimatizes people’s confidence in the vote. And it doesn’t, I think,
give people a high level of confidence that we can manage this sort of digital layer
on top of what is already a pretty emotionally-fraught
voting system. – Advocates are worried
after what happened in Iowa that people will start to be scared of using new technology for voting. Supporters of mobile voting say, “They focus on security. “They plan in advance
and that they don’t think “what happened with Iowa’s app should have “a negative impact on
their separate efforts.” – [Narrator] Running an end-to-end test is crucial in most software development. Creating software for smart phones presents a unique challenge
when it comes to testing, which is especially important when creating voting technology. – We’re building it so that it can run on all the thousands of possible combinations of Android phones, and IOS phones and even Microsoft phones and phones who’s operating system
haven’t been updated in three or four years or even more. And so there’s almost a limitless number of environments in which you have to prove that software can work. And it’s almost impossible to test it in all of those environments except, in an actual election. – [Narrator] Still, mobile
voting supporters say it’s important to find ways to improve access and engage voters. – Some experts and some
people who advocate for mobile voting say it’s inevitable. They say that younger generations are used to doing
everything on their phones and they want to meet
voters where they are. – Maybe when every single car on the road is driven by a robot and
a generation of people can’t even imagine that a human being would have ever driven a
car, we’ll also be saying, “God, can you imagine
that people used to vote “on pieces of paper?” I can see that coming and
I think we’ll be there, but I think it’s 20 years, not 10. (upbeat cheerful music)