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House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting

House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting
© Greg Nash

House Democrats used an app called Markup ERVS to cast votes in the caucus’ first-ever virtual leadership elections, a spokesperson for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesJustice Dept. pledges to address hate crimes against Asian Americans Xi'an Famous Foods CEO warns of anti-Asian hate crimes in NYC Democrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) confirmed Friday. 

Democrats had previously disclosed they would be using an app to cast votes for leadership and committee chairs virtually during the coronavirus pandemic but had not revealed the name of the app they chose. 

“In order to ensure we could organize our Caucus safely amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, House Democrats conducted the first-ever virtual elections for its leadership team and committee chairs using Markup’s ERVS secure voting app on House issued phones,” Jeffries said in a statement. 

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“The technology has been incredibly well-received by the Members and we are ready to continue our fight For The People in the next Congress,” Jeffries added. 

Markup ERVS is a “secure electronic remote voting system” that enables elected officials to record their votes, according to an app store description. Reuters first reported details about the app Democrats used on Friday. 

Markup, a D.C.-based company, launched its remote voting product in March, as the coronavirus pandemic posed increasing issues around gathering in person. 

The Democrats used the secure voting system to cast preferences for assistant Speaker, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair and chairs of various major committees, according to Markup. Democrats nominated Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Andrew Yang condemns attacks against Asian Americans Congress in lockdown: Will we just 'get used to it'? MORE (D-Calif.) to remain atop the party in a voice vote, which was also conducted remotely. 

The House Information Resources office reviewed the software’s security and then installed it on lawmakers' phones before the leadership contests, a spokesperson for the office confirmed to Reuters. 

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Democrats have widely pushed for remote voting during the pandemic, but Republicans have largely opposed such measures. 

A report prepared by staff on the Democratic-led House Administration Committee concluded that technology exists for members of Congress to securely vote remotely during the pandemic. 

The authors of the report, which was released last month, said that certain security criteria would have to be met to ensure safe remote voting, including ensuring the security of remote networks, issuing “dedicated voting devices” to each member only for casting votes, and regularly checking the remote voting systems for cyber vulnerabilities. 

The House has already adopted some changes to procedures and rules due to the pandemic. In May, the House approved rules allowing for remote hearings and allowing for members to vote as proxy for another member.