Voters in Seattle will be the first in the country to vote by smartphone app in 2020 for local elections, which is both really amazing and also brain-jarringly stupid.
A district encompassing Greater Seattle is set to become the first in which every voter can cast a ballot using a smartphone — a historic moment for American democracy.
The King Conservation District, a state environmental agency that encompasses Seattle and more than 30 other cities, is scheduled to detail the plan at a news conference on Wednesday. About 1.2 million eligible voters could take part.
NPR is first to report the story.
The new technology will be used for a board of supervisors election, and ballots will be accepted from Wednesday through election day on Feb. 11.
"This is the most fundamentally transformative reform you can do in democracy," said Bradley Tusk, the founder and CEO of Tusk Philanthropies, a nonprofit aimed at expanding mobile voting that is funding the King County pilot.
But the move is sure to polarize the elections community as democracy-watchers across the country debate the age-old push-and-pull between voting access and voting security.
The U.S. trails most developed democracies when it comes to its election turnout rate, and local races typically lag far behind presidential November elections.
The board of supervisors election in the King Conservation District, for example, in past years has drawn less than 1% of the eligible population to the ballot box.
Tusk says low turnout contributes to dysfunction in government because candidates aren't forced to craft positions that represent the entire population.
"If you can use technology to exponentially increase turnout, then that will ultimately dictate how politicians behave on every issue," he said.
Look, any voting technology that sounds like it might be a major plot component by a villain on Mr. Robot or Black Mirror is automatically suspect in my book. The idea is great and would massively increase turnout if people could vote from their phones, but believe me when I say there is no way on God's green, purple, chartreuse or plaid earth that the security technology is anywhere near close to being ready to secure voting done by app.
Need I remind you there's loads of evidence that voter registration information in the 2016 presidential election was compromised in all 50 states?
No, this is a technology that needs to die screaming. It will only be hacked in the future.