Turnout almost doubles in Seattle-area election after mobile voting implemented

Turnout almost doubles in Seattle-area election after mobile voting implemented

Turnout for a local Seattle-area election for members of an all-volunteer board nearly doubled in 2020 after an electronic mobile voting system was implemented by state officials.

Data from the King County Elections Office indicated that 6,280 voters participated in an election between Jan. 22 and Feb. 11 to name members of the King Conservation District's Board of Supervisors, a board of volunteers that directs conservation efforts in the county.

That amount was almost twice as many as the 3,241 voters who participated last year, a surge coinciding with the district's first-ever use of electronic ballots that voters could fill out and submit electronically or in the mail from home.

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An analysis of the votes conducted by the National Cybersecurity Center indicated that 94 percent of voters in 2020 elected to use the new electronic submission method for their ballots, even when presented with the option of verifying the ballot by printing it out and mailing it.

“The successful King Conservation District election demonstrates that with top-notch platform development, effective election official training and voter education, mobile voting can be accomplished securely,” Forrest Senti, the National Cybersecurity Center's director of business and government initiatives, said in a statement to The Hill.

“Best practices and standards can and do exist for mobile voting, just as they do for casting a paper ballot; when vendors and jurisdictions embrace those standards, the voter wins.”

Mobile voting methods implemented by the district were provided by Democracy Live and funded in part by the nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies. One King County resident said in a statement provided by Tusk representatives that they were able to vote unassisted for the first time due to the new measures.

“As a long-time resident and voter in King County who happens to be blind, I applaud the work of all those involved in this pilot,” King County resident Douglas Bright said. “By using the Democracy Live system, I was able to vote and submit my ballot entirely independently for the first time in my life.”