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Seattle-area volunteer board election to offer US's first attempt at online voting

Seattle-area volunteer board election to offer US's first attempt at online voting

An election for a Seattle-area board of volunteers will be the first official election in the country where votes will be cast online, according to organizers.

The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that the election beginning Wednesday for the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors will be handled entirely by an online portal set up by state organizers in conjunction with Tusk Philanthropies, which told the Times that the election is the first ever in the U.S. to be entirely handled online.

Election officials will download electronic ballots submitted by voters, before printing out the ballots and checking signatures against those on file. The countywide election previously saw such low turnout that voters would have to request a paper ballot by mail via an online system in order to participate, the Seattle Times reported.

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“This election could be a key step in moving toward electronic access and return for voters across the region,” King County Director of Elections Julie Wise told the newspaper. “My role here is to remove barriers to voting.”

“There’s a lot of things we do online, banking, health records, that are also of concern for people that are secure,” she added. “I’ve vetted this, technology experts in the region have vetted this to ensure that this is a safe, secure voting opportunity.”

Regardless of the election's historic nature, Wise added that she does not foresee implementing online voting for all King County elections.

Bea Covington, executive director of the King Conservation District, told the Times that she hopes online voting will increase turnout.

“We have been looking for ways to increase awareness and increase voter participation for a number of years,” she said. “We’re providing a really large beta test of this kind of ballot access.”