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Seattle becomes the first US location to allow smartphone voting in local elections

This will have people very divided.

seattle washington skyline
Image: Unsplash

We already do so many of our daily tasks on our smartphones, so why not voting? That question is about to be answered by a district in Washington state that encompasses Seattle and more than 30 other cities. Starting Wednesday, they’ll be using new tech that enables smartphone voting to elect a new board of supervisors, culminating on February 11 when it’s election day.

While this might be able to increase turnout, at what cost?

Voters in one Seattle district will be able to cast their ballot using their smartphone

In the first instance in the United States, eligible voters in a district in Washington state will be able to vote using their mobile phones. It’s simple in essence, go to the King County website, use your name and birthdate to sign in, pick your choices, verify those choices, then sign your name. The election board plans to then print out those ballots, and verify the signatures against those held from prior years.

If it works, it might be the forerunner of being able to vote while you’re stuck at work, a major reason for low turnouts at both local and national level:

  • Less than one percent of the eligible voters in the King Conservation District have voted in local races in recent years
  • The cybersecurity community thinks mobile voting is a really stupid idea, according to Duncan Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina who specializes in election technology
  • So does the Senate Intelligence Committee, who said this last year in its bipartisan report on Russian election interference: “States should resist pushes for online voting”

Look. If this does increase turnout, I’m all for it. The thing is, Washington state already votes by mail for everything. If mailing a letter is too hard for the 99 percent that don’t already vote, is tapping on their smartphone going to be any easier? Plus, we all know what happens when we let the internet vote on important things…

What do you think? Is this a good idea or are you against it? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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