Phil McGrane, Ada County Elections and Bender 

Responding to a question about when there might be online voting in Idaho, Phil McGrane, chief deputy to the Ada County clerk, didn't waste words: "Not in my lifetime."

In 2010, Washington, D.C., experimented with an electronic voting system, inviting hackers to interfere with a mock school board election. Within hours, a University of Michigan professor and two graduate students had broken into the system, elected Futurama character Bender to the D.C. school board, replaced the "Thank you for voting" message with "Owned," and programmed it to play the University of Michigan fight song, "Hail to the Victors." The changes went unnoticed for 48 hours.

"Unless you want Bender as president—and some of you might want that right now—we won't be voting online," McGrane told a contingent from the League of Women Voters Sept. 13 at the Ada County Courthouse.

For McGrane, it was a chance to demystify voting and elections at a time of high interest in the issue; for the league, it was a chance to turn down the heat in one of the most partisan times in living memory.

"This is something we can do nonpartisan, and it's something we can do right now," said Crystal Callahan, a member of LWV. "And it's a hot-button issue."

The 2016 general election put elections in the spotlight, with claims of millions of illegal ballots cast, the winner receiving the fewest votes and election interference by Russian agents. In July, a presidential election integrity commission requested sensitive information about Idaho voters. Its request was eventually fulfilled, but only with publicly available data.

Callahan, an Idaho native, joined LWV after the 2016 election because of the intense partisanship she saw on Facebook. She and LWV turned to McGrane, who spoke on a variety of topics, from the power of primaries ("Four percent of the people in the State of Idaho determined who would be on the ballot in the [2016] general election") to why the counties where Idahoans travel farthest to get to polls have the highest voter turnout.

There were fewer than a dozen people at the event, but for Callahan, it was a start.

"We're reintroducing the League of Women Voters," she said. "We just want to get the service and organization back out there."


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