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YouTube expands voting information to help inform users
by Paul Hill
As we head towards the 2020 U.S. presidential election, YouTube has made improvements to give users authoritative voting information when they browse content relating to the 2020 presidential or federal Congressional candidates on YouTube. The panel will provide users with information on candidates in the search results.
In addition, if someone looks on YouTube to find out how to register to vote or how to vote, YouTube will provide additional information panels on these topics. The information will be available in both English and Spanish to reach the highest number of people.
In the run-up to voting day, YouTube and its other social media accounts will provide information on how to register, how to vote, and where to vote. Additionally, it’ll display information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about volunteering at the polls so you can get more involved.
As YouTube is a video platform with live streaming capabilities, you’ll be able to tune into live coverage from various sources during election events including the debates, election night coverage, and the inauguration. Going forward, YouTube is striving to be a reliable source of news and information and a place where healthy political discourse can take place.
Twitter begins U.S. voter registration campaign
by Paul Hill
Twitter has announced that it has formed a partnership with National Voter Registration Day to encourage more Americans to register for the upcoming presidential election. Users will be encouraged by various means on Twitter to register to vote or confirm their registration.
Users that are located in the United States will see a new prompt on their home timeline encouraging them to register to vote or confirm their registration using a service called TurboVote run by Democracy Works, a non-partisan and non-profit organization. This will help to ensure nobody who wants to vote gets turned away at the polling station.
Other measures being taken to encourage voting include:
A push alert being displayed that directs users to a page full of voter registration information. It will be available in more than 40 languages depending on each person’s app settings. A promoted campaign run by @TwitterGov will take over today’s U.S. Promoted Trend Spotlight with registration resources from TurboVote. A new Twitter hashtag emoji is being introduced with #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady is being introduced to “empower civic conversation” across the country. Going forward, Twitter says it will publish additional voting-related notices as the election gets closer. By ensuring people are registered to vote, the firm is helping to make sure that everyone in the country entitled to a vote gets their say.
Facebook to help scholars assess social media's impact on elections
by Paul Hill
As a result of the growing cognisance that Facebook holds sway over the way people vote on political matters, the firm has announced that it will be granting select scholars access to data in order to see exactly what effects social media has on voters.
Alongside Facebook, a commission of experts will be chosen with different political outlooks, expertise, life experiences, gender, ethnicity, and from a broad range of countries. Firstly, they’ll prioritise what they want the research to identify; secondly, they’ll work with Facebook to develop requests for research proposals in order to meet the research agenda; and thirdly, the body will manage a peer review process to select which scholars receive funding and get access to privacy-protected datasets in order to answer the agenda questions.
In the announcement, Facebook discussed how it would keep user data secure:
The research that the commission decides it wants to publish will be published without any interference, according to Facebook. The social media giant said it is committed to transparency around “the rationale for the structure and membership of the commission."
Facebook said the project will get financial backing from the likes of the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
By Joshua Usen
Virginia plans to replace voting machines by November
by Usen Joshua O.
The State Elections Board of Virginia, on Friday the 8th of September, approved a plan to replace the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used currently in the state due to concerns about hacking in future elections. This was as a result of a memo issued by the Virginia State Department of Elections which recommended that the current DRE voting machines be decertified due to a lack of verifiable paper trails by which voting figures can be tallied against for confirmation.
The DRE voting machines use a touchscreen for selecting candidates which are consequently recorded electronically. Moreover, the memo included the mention of a review by the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) which raised concerns because "in each of the systems, the potential for loss of vote is significant as none of the machines appear to produce paper audit trails during the voting process.” Nevertheless, authors of the memo noted that "concerns with DRE [voting machines] are not new", and pointed out previous DEFCON hacking conferences which involved the hacking of voting machines.
The memo which was sent to the State Election Board members by Edgardo Cortes, the Commissioner for the Department of Elections, officially recommends that:
The State of Virginia had previously passed a law which mandated that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified by 2020, but the memo which has been approved by the state board has moved forward the timetable to not more than 60 days from the memo release date. The new deadline being November 7th effectively puts Virginia on a fast track to decertify and replace the machines in the affected counties. Furthermore, the deadline is of political significance because, on that date, the State of Virginia will be holding the governorship election and various other elections around the state.
Edgardo Cortés confirmed to Politico that election boards of other states had been notified of its recommendations.
Source: Virginia Department of Elections via Engadget, Politico | Image via Reuters
Australian Parliament considers implementing electronic voting for MPs
by Boyd Chan
Since its founding in 1901, the Australian Parliament has observed a number of traditions. Some traditions hark back to those enacted in British Parliament such as making the declaration of an open Parliament in the Senate rather than the House of Representatives. This tradition primarily exists because a monarch or an appointed representative, such as the Governor-General in Australia, does not enter the House of Representatives.
However, the way in which MPs formally vote in the future could change if a Lower House committee gets its way.
Normally, when a voice vote has been challenged, MPs must physically move themselves to either the right or left side of the Chamber to represent a respective affirmative or negative vote. Votes are then manually counted and names of Members recorded before the result is announced.
Committee MPs have been keen to retain this tradition but with the introduction of smart cards which would be swiped across a reader physically located either side of the Chamber. This would enable votes to be tallied in real time and potentially save time required for manual counting and recording. However, a major drawback to a smart card system would be that votes for absent MPs could potentially be cast if their presence in the Chamber was not verified.
In any case, this is not the first time that electronic voting has been put forward. Back in November 1996, the Procedure Committee made a similar recommendation for electronic voting with nothing to show for it. Originally, the cost to implement electronic voting in both Houses originally estimated at AU$3 million over three years while support costs topped AU$300,000 per year. Given the elapsed time of almost two decades, it would be interesting to see how much a solution would cost today given the advancement of technology since the 1990s.
Source: ABC News Australia | Australian flag image via Shutterstock