A new trend will focus on the delicate juncture of politics and technology today, as advocates of wireless technology ride the coattails of Super Tuesday.
It’s happening in all aspects of the process, from campaigns to voter registration to election security.
Limbo, a startup in Burlingame, Calif., which conducts mobile marketing for brands like Disney and Toyota, says it found in a test that mobile advertising to build candidate awareness works for elections no better or worse than for any other kind of advertising.
AT&T and the Rock the Vote organization are partnering to reach young voters. “Voters will be able to opt-in to get election and voter-registration news and reminders by text message, and will be able to download exclusive celebrity ringtones that promote the importance of voting. The campaign also will include text-polling, reports from student journalists and event sponsorships, among other initiatives. Content from the program will be made available to voters of all ages,” AT&T explains in its media kit.
But there is a fine line between using wireless technology for good and bad, said Rebecca Mercuri, who is president of Notable Software and sits on an IEEE committee advising the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. For example, voters could use a mobile phone to photograph their completed ballot, and then e-mail that image to someone who has paid them for a vote – taking a photo of a ballot is already illegal in Italy, she said. Meanwhile, wireless technology in the actual voting machines is not illegal in most states, so that manufacturers can more easily update and maintain many systems at once.
Whether that same technology is used by pollsters, and whether it could be used by malicious hackers for voting fraud or for denial-of-service attacks is a highly controversial topic, she said.
Within the IEEE committee, “We had many arguments,” she said. “Any of those [methods] could be going on at the Super Tuesday level.”