Media treatment of Online Voting: Double-Standard is the standard

Arizona voters wait two hours

Double standard is the standard when it comes to media treatment of online voting.

Election night coverage of primary elections and caucuses on March 22nd was a perfect example. Reports of two hour lines to vote in Arizona, and long delays in Utah when polling places ran out of ballots, were portrayed as “good things” by reporters, because they represented enthusiasm.

Reports of any inconvenience whatsoever in Utah’s GOP first ever online voting option were characterized as chaos, a nightmare, and a plague.

Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) reported on the online vote on MSNBC, and later tweeted about what he described on TV as a situation “plagued with registration problems” in Utah. He neglected to mention that most of the people calling in to help lines, and complaining that they couldn’t vote online, had failed to register by the March 18th deadline, and then tried to go online and vote anyway.

Here’s a news flash, Jacob: If someone can’t vote because they didn’t register, that isn’t a technical issue. When voters show up at the polling place and can’t vote because they didn’t register, do you report that as a plague of registration problems?

Even worse, Jacob’s report then went on to talk about security “concerns”, by parroting the rhetoric of anti online voting activists, referring to them as “security experts”. He presented their opinions about the security of the system as fact. He offered no quotes from the online voting service provider used. Instead he made only a vague reference to Estonia. He didn’t even know the name of the company.

Jacob, the name of the service provider is Smartmatic, a company that provides secure online voting around the world. They aren’t the only company doing this. Companies like Everyone Counts and Scytl (the largest online voting service provider in the world) manage online elections every day with none of the security nightmares predicted by your “experts”. Next time you choose to cover this subject, you might want to consider actually interviewing them, instead of relying solely on avid opponents for your “facts”.

While Jacob spoke, the ticker on the bottom of the screen kept flashing “Some voters wait in two hour lines in Arizona”. No trouble, chaos, or nightmares for those voters, I suppose.

Meanwhile, despite some real and valid issues with the online vote in Utah, NONE of them were related to security problems. NONE of the scary outcomes predicted by Jacob’s “experts” came to pass regarding the tally of the vote.
In fact, they never do.

Not that you would know any of the real facts about online voting, after watching coverage on March 22nd.

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