D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto has introduced a bill on Feb. 18 that will allow District residents to cast an absentee ballot digitally from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
The bill, the Mobile Voting Options for Turnout Equity Amendment Act of 2022, would direct the D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) to establish a secure system that protects voter information and election integrity.
“Our city and nation have well-established values that voting rights are civil rights; enfranchising District residents by making voting easy and accessible for all is fundamentally important in advancing those values,” said Pinto in a news release. “Despite District efforts to increase voting access, many residents continue to face voting barriers.”
Mobile voters won’t need to visit a polling location. In a manner similar to electronic confirmation of filed tax returns, voters can verify their ballot choices are recorded correctly and track them to confirm their submissions have been accurately received and accepted.
Pinto noted in the news release hundreds of thousands of eligible voters haven’t cast a ballot in several years. In 2018, less than 19% of D.C. registered voters voted in the 2018 primary and only 46% cast a ballot in the general election, according to statistics from the BOE.
Even in the 2020 election cycle that had a historic turnout, Pinto said only 28% of registered voters voted in the primary and 67% in the general election. Additionally, Pinto said 85% of District adults owned a smartphone in 2021 and noted financial transactions such as managing bank accounts and filing taxes are done using the device.
“Mobile voting is one essential way to reduce barriers to voting and move the District to the forefront of modernizing elections,” the councilmember said.
Pinto’s bill was co-introduced by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Councilmembers Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), Christina Henderson (D-Ward 2), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Robert C. White (D-At Large) and Vincent C. Gray (D.