ELECTIONS

Utah County voting app has security concerns, according to MIT

Feb 18, 2020, 11:11 AM
Morgan County coin toss...
The Primary Election for District 3 in Morgan County will likely be determined by a toss of a coin! (Image credit: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A Utah County voting app is being used again this year, despite security concerns.

The mobile app allows military personnel stationed overseas, as well as residents with disabilities, to vote with their phones.

Utah County was one of just a few counties in the country to pilot the app “Voatz” last year.

The app uses facial recognition technology to allow a resident to vote without submitting a ballot by mail or in person.

Security concerns

Despite the perceived convenience, the Utah County voting app has come under fire after a recent publication from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A team of researchers published a paper last week which concluded the app is “vulnerable to a number of attacks that could violate election integrity.” Additionally, they are recommending that “any near-future plans to use this app for high-stakes elections be abandoned.”

Just weeks away from Super Tuesday voting, Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers Gardner says she isn’t worried.

Flawed research?

Gardner says she is not concerned about the MIT research.

“We looked at their findings and we looked at our system, and we’re not really concerned,” she said.

They were using a version of the app that is 27 versions old,” she told the Daily Herald. “If someone trying to vote in our election tried to use that version of the app, they would get an error message and they would get told that they needed to update their app before they could cast their vote.”

She adds that federal law requires overseas military personnel and residents with physical disabilities to be given additional voting options.

Gardner says alternative options, such as voting by email, wouldn’t be better options.

“[The app doesn’t] pose any greater of a risk than email would,” she said. “As of right now, we feel totally comfortable continuing to use it. And we will continue to do complete audits of the system.”

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Utah County voting app has security concerns, according to MIT