Growing global concerns over the security and integrity of elections raises questions about the future of technology in politics.
Another day, another headline, another speculation about foreign state-sponsored interference in the last US presidential election. But before the saga can weigh on you any further, take heart in this tidbit: the United States by far isn’t the only country fighting back against perceived tampering with their election process.
A global issue
While other Western democracies across Europe dealt with their own suspected Russian tampering, largely in the form of paid political ads and social media campaigns aimed at turning voters towards or away from specific issues and candidates, Italy’s recent election seems to have been the exception. As the New York Times put it, the favored to win candidate was already so pro-Russia there was no need to interfere.
However, given that a largely politically unknown underdog has just been sworn in after a hotly contested ballot counting process, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not that indicates how effective Russian meddling may be.
Elsewhere, one former candidate has cited concerns over technology in response to losing a presidential race. Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, admittedly not the favorite expected to win, brought up his concerns over tampering with voter software after a fourth-ranked candidate rose through the polls out of nowhere to win the election, beating even the long-favored assumed winner.
What about the future?
With our technology (or rather, the people behind it pulling the strings) potentially compromised, how do we leave important decisions like government leadership to a faceless bunch of code? So are we left to return the days of paper ballots folded and dropped into cardboard boxes like some kind of middle school class election?
Sources such as John Kelly have stated that this level of intrusion could mean the US literally will no longer be a democracy, at least not in the sense that officials are selected by the people to represent them. Without some sort of failsafe, not only will the interference continue, it will be used to further escalate into both future elections and everyday life.