Seattle-Area Voters to cast ballot using smartphones
(NPR) – A district encompassing Greater Seattle is set to become the first ever to allow voters to cast a ballot using a smartphone.
The new technology will be used in an upcoming board of supervisors election.
The district will accept ballots beginning Jan. 22 through election day on Feb. 11.
About 1.2 million voters are eligible to take part.
Voters in King County will use their name and date of birth to log in to a Web portal through the Internet browser on their phones.
Voters will then complete the ballot, verify their selections and submit a signature on the touch screen of their device.
The King County elections office will print out the electronically submitted ballots and count them alongside traditionally submitted votes.
“This is the most fundamentally transformative reform you can do in democracy,” said Bradley Tusk, the founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies, a nonprofit funding the King County pilot.
“If you can use technology to exponentially increase turnout, then that will ultimately dictate how politicians behave on every issue,” Tusk said.
The U.S. ranks 26th in the world when it comes to election turnout rates at 55.7%.
Other states and counties in the U.S. have experimented with ways to boost voter turnout in populations that tended to have difficulty in getting to the polls.
In 2018, West Virginia allowed military voters and voters living overseas to cast ballots using a mobile app.
One county in Utah allowed disabled voters to do the same.
The move to allow mobile voting draws criticism from the elections community.
The concern stems from a bumpy online voting history.
In 2010, an online voting pilot program in Washington D.C. got hacked and was then scrapped.
And this year, the Democratic National Committee decided to nix a plan that would have allowed voters in Nevada and Iowa to caucus remotely .
The King Conservation District plans to release election details Wednesday.