A new app aims to allow people to vote using a selfie, to make voting “more accessible” to the public.
The BBC reports that tech company Smartmatic gave Newsbeat an exclusive demonstration of their new facial recognition app which allows users to register and cast a vote just using their smartphone. Smartmatic has claimed that their new app is more secure than standard online banking or shopping systems.
Speaking to Newsbeat, the UK government stated that they were committed to “embracing technology” but insisted that the traditional paper ballot system is more secure than digital voting. Smartmatic’s app uses facial biometric data and a government issued ID-card to verify identity, creating a digital voting profile for the user.
The app then allows users to login via facial recognition and cast their vote in elections from anywhere. Smartmatic program manager Mike Summers believes that their app could help to encourage people to take part in elections, “There’s huge potential, we’re seeing a huge amount of interest in this,” he said. “There is an overwhelming reduction in participation in elections because people are more mobile now, so we see an opportunity to strengthen the process, to make it more accessible.”
Chief Executive of the Institute for Digital Democracy Areeq Chowdhury believes that the app would encourage younger people to vote, “It would make politicians pay attention more to groups who’d be enfranchised more by this method of voting,” he said. “We’re banking online, shopping online, even dating online so it doesn’t make sense to continue with a process that is offline, that is stuck in the 1880s.”
Others, however, are not so optimistic about the future of digital voting, Chris Skidmore MP, the government minister responsible for elections still believes that paper ballots are here to stay. “We believe that the current paper and pen method is the best way forward, it means that each individual’s vote is counted equally, one citizen one vote.” he said, “When you go to the polling station you’ll present a form of identification and we’re also looking at reforming postal voting,” he explained. We’ve got to make sure that each person who’s registered to vote gets the chance to vote and people need to have confidence that democracy is not being stolen from them.”