After the infamous -- and embarrassing -- hanging chad issue associated with the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which resulted in new electronic voting systems. Now, smartphone voting is on the table.
According to a release from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (via Science Daily), the U.S. Government is looking into the efficacy of smartphones to 1) make voting easier and 2) increase participation with remote voting.
Voting is already allowed remotely through electronic devices by soldiers overseas. The authors of a study evaluating usability of smartphones for voting said that because of this initial step, use of smartphones for public voting will come to fruition someday:
"...some form of Internet voting seems inevitable, and it follows then that smartphones and other Internet-capable mobile technologies will likely play a key role."
In terms of actual user-friendliness, researchers found that smartphone voting technology would still have to improve for those who aren't already accustomed to using such devices:
“Voting on a Smartphone: Evaluating the Usability of an Optimized Voting System for Handheld Mobile Devices,” [a study by] Bryan Campbell, Chad Tossell, Michael Byrne, and Philip Kortum asked more than 50 men and women ranging in age from 18 to 68, with and without smartphone experience, to vote on two types of systems: a custom-built mobile Web application, and either a traditional electronic voting system or a paper ballot. The researchers found that participants who own and use smartphones completed the voting task more accurately than did those without smartphone experience, indicating the need to design mobile voting systems—including content for such systems—to accommodate inexperienced voters’ mental model to increase usability, effectiveness, and accuracy.
The authors state that with improved technology to help those unfamiliar with devices like smartphones, mobile voting will become a reality in the longer term, but we shouldn't expect it for the 2012 election.
[H/T Science Daily]