A smartphone may be used to vote. (Courtesy of Voatz)
A smartphone may be used to vote. (Courtesy of Voatz)

A recent poll conducted in the District shows that mobile voting — casting a ballot by way of smartphones, iPads or computers – has overwhelming support and a movement has started to implement it as a part of the city’s election system.

On Dec. 2, Hart Research in concert with Tusk Philanthropies Mobile Voting Project released a poll showing that 70% of District residents support casting a ballot using digital tools. Five hundred likely 2022 voters between Nov. 1 and Nov. 4 participated in the poll conducted by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. Yvette Buckner, the managing director of Tusk Strategies, said it appears widespread support for mobile voting in the city exists.

“The people in the city feel that mobile voting can be an option for them,” Buckner said. “While mobile voting is popular across all demographic groups, young people tend to favor it more than older people.”

The poll’s results come as D.C. Council members sponsor legislation to make major and permanent changes in the city’s electoral system. Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large) has authored a bill installing a rank-choice voting system in the city. Her colleague, Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), serves as the chief sponsor of a bill making vote by mail and ballot drop boxes permanent features of future elections.

Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) introduced earlier this year “The Voter Mobile App Amendment Act of 2021.” If White’s legislation wins approval by the council, the city will be the first jurisdiction in the country to adopt mobile voting as an election mode.

Benefits of Mobile Voting

Joyce Bucaro serves as the director of the Mobile Voting Project, Tusk Philanthropies.

Bucaro said mobile voting has its advantages.

“The technology exists to make voting easier and it increases turnout,” she said. “Mobile voting can also make counting ballots more efficient on Election Day. There is no need to wait for ballot by mail. There is no need for the manual processing of ballots.”

Bucaro knows of concerns about hacking of mobile ballots.

“We are aware of digital concerns,” she said. “There will be safeguards in place to protect voters’ identity and privacy. Plus, mobile voting has the digital version of mail and absentee ballots. You have to sign an affidavit to vote. Your ballot is sealed by encryption.”

Buckner said her organization will approach the D.C. Board of Elections about mobile voting and encouraging council members to move forward with legislation early next year.

Support for mobile voting

The Rev. Lionel Edmonds, who serves as the pastor for the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church and is the co-founder of the Washington Interfaith Network, supports mobile voting.

“I see this as a part of gospel ministry work to make a more just society,” Edmonds said. “The poll says 89% of people want to make voting easier. Mobile voting won’t hinder other voting methods.”

Edmonds said while the poll reflects senior citizens aren’t as enthusiastic about mobile voting as younger people, he said don’t count seniors as non-supporters.

“Seniors get excited about technology,” Edmonds said. “My organization will help seniors learn about mobile voting. Many of them struggle to get to the voting booth. Mobile voting is easier and less physically challenging for them. Seniors can adapt and we will help them.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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