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Seattle is first district to offer option to vote via smartphone


King County, Washington is hitting a milestone not just for the state, but the country as a whole. For the first time ever, all residents of the county have an option to vote in an official election using purely their smartphone. The election is for the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

King County includes the city of Seattle and has a total 1.2 million voters. But even with this number, between 1 and 3 percent normally participate in the election. The move to allow voting via a smartphone is an attempt to empower more people to go out and vote. Critics, however, are worried about the security of the web-based system. 

In order to vote, the residents will have to log in with their name and birthday. After voting, they will have to submit their signature using their phone’s touchscreen. The back end of the system prints out the submissions on paper before they get tallied. 

In addition to making a vote online, the voters have an option to fill out the ballot using their device and print it out by themselves. But they do have to submit the printed ballot. 

This is not the first time this voting option has been used before. But in the past, they were for certain populations, such as disabled, military, and overseas voters. This is the first time that electronic mobile voting is used as an option by all residents. 

The program is funded by a non-profit called Tusk Philanthropies. CEO and founder Bradley Tusk shared how he hopes they will be able to fund between 35 and 50 mobile-voting pilots in the next five years. And with the data gathered from such programs, he hopes they can have an even wider use for the program.