Apps and technology can be fun. Much like a shiny new toy, they can bring delightful new features that have the potential to turn your day around.
But what’s new isn’t always good. Just look at the iPod. In the mid-2000s, hundreds of devices were held up as iPod-killers in tech news headlines, but few people remember the Dell Jukebox. Many of the devices competing with Apple’s were plagued by poor interfaces, bad software or lacking hardware. And yet, at one point, each was considered cutting-edge.
But while new tech can be great when it comes to ordering from Amazon or catching a TV show, there are some areas where what’s tried and true would be a better option.
And there is likely no example better than elections.
Quick question: Who won the Democratic Iowa caucus? If you can’t confidently come up with an answer, you aren’t alone. The results have been up in the air for days, and even now candidates are challenging the authenticity of the results.
The culprit behind the confusion was an app distributed to officials that would be used to tally the caucus. The brand new app left some officials scratching their heads when trying to report results, many of whom opted instead to use the old method of phoning in their numbers.
But that too resulted in problems. Online trolls began calling in to the phone lines, attempting to overwhelm the political machine and put officials on hold for several hours, according to Wired Magazine.
In this case, the Democrats tried to put technology where it wasn’t needed. What’s new isn’t always better, and that’s especially true in this case.
Technology, while making some processes more convenient, can also make exploitation more convenient. And that’s made worse when it’s vulnerable or untested.
In 2017, a server that was crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was wiped clean, according to USA Today. The data on the servers was going to help decide if officials had done their due diligence in securing the aging voting systems that might have tipped the scale in favor of certain candidates.
While voters might have enjoyed touching a screen to decide their next elected officials, that data is forever gone. And while this was a domestic issue, there have been growing concerns in recent years that foreign adversaries are able to poke holes in our election systems.
The idea that foreign nations might have hacked our voting systems is one that shouldn’t let anyone comfortably sleep. Of course, the march of time goes on and so does tech, but recent years should start giving people pause about what kind of innovations they embrace.
Picking the next president shouldn’t feel like Facebook.
This isn’t to say we should go back to chiseling in our votes using stone tablets, but when it comes to elections we should use extreme caution. Concerns over corrupt or untested technology are not unwarranted.
After all, the Iowa caucus was brought to it’s knees by bored people on the internet. Imagine if someone with a clearer goal and more resources decided to do worse.