Home Blockchain Seattle tries out mobile voting

Seattle tries out mobile voting

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About 1.2 million Seattle area voters will be able to use their smartphone, laptop or a computer at their local library to vote in a current election this year.

This will be the first time online voting is available to all eligible registered voters of a district, according to a foundation behind the initiative.

The King Conservation District in Washington State is the third region in the U.S. to partner with the nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies on a national effort to expand mobile voting, and Washington is the fifth state to pilot mobile voting in general. The King Conservation District is a state environmental agency that includes Seattle and 33 other cities, but it is separate from the King County Elections agency and operates under a different budget.

The King Conservation District has struggled to spur voter turnout in past elections. Last year’s Board of Supervisors’ election was among its highest ever with a turnout of just 0.2%, or 3,000 voters out of a possible 1.22 million registered to vote, according to Julie Wise, director of elections for King County.

Seattle’s King Conservation District began accepting electronic ballots on Jan. 22 for three of five supervisor seats; it will continue to accept them through Feb. 11.

For the past decade, Washington State has allowed all of its voters to access ballots electronically, but only for the purposes of printing out and then mailing them in. For the first time, the King Conservation District election is allowing voters to access ballots and submit their votes online via Amazon’s cloud service.

“It’s not technology I’ll be rolling out for King County in upcoming elections,” Wise said. “The Conservation District in Washington State has struggled to reach out to its voters. This district doesn’t have the money to get a ballot into the mail for 1.22 million registered voters, so they’re trying to find a creative way to get voters access.”

General elections in King County have had no problems garnering voter turnout, according to Wise, whose office has a vastly larger budget than the Conservation District’s. In past presidential elections, King County saw 80% voter turnout.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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