Local election draws national attention over new twist

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

texting on smartphoneA local vote in a Washington county is getting a lot of attention because of a new twist: voting by phone.

Residents of King County, Washington can cast a ballot via their smartphone in a Board of Supervisors election.

Voting began January 22 and will continue through February 11.

Paul Guppy, vice president of research for the Washington Policy Center, says his organization opposes the allowance even if, at the moment, it is only being done in a local election.

“But as a system,” he warns, “this does open up a lot of doubts and can undermine public trust in the outcome of our elections."

According to The Verge, King County voters can submit through a mobile web portal, verifying their identities with their name, birthdate, and a signature.

Guppy says the problem becomes identifying whether you really are John Q. Public or someone else. 

"Of course, there are concerns about information being hacked," he says. "Election officials will say they have a a thousand safeguards in place, and that could never happen, but we hear every day of major sophisticated companies -- and even government agencies -- that have had their servers hacked. So that doesn't create a lot of confidence."

The idea of virtual voting is not a new one but the project in King County appears to be a bigger effort involving far more people than counties in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and West Virginia that have tried or tested mobile voting in recent months and years.

"We have statewide mail balloting and that in itself has not necessarily resulted in a better system," says Guppy about Washington state voting. "It has not increased participation and it does increase questions about security."

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