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King County rolling out Democracy Live ‘mobile voting’ for February election

Washington is already leading the way with mail only voting since 2011, now King County is ready to help blaze some new trails in democracy with a project to test mobile voting in the February special election:

King Conservation District (KCD) will join Democracy Live and Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announcing that KCD is implementing mobile voting in their upcoming Conservation District Board of Supervisors election. This will be the first time in the country that mobile voting is available to all eligible registered voters.

The county says voters will be able to participate in the election by opting in to vote online with their smartphones through a partnership with Democracy Live and Tusk Philanthropies.

“Previous pilots in other jurisdictions were limited to overseas military voters and/or voters with disabilities,” the county announcement reads. King County Elections says the 1.2 million registered voters residing in the conservation district’s service area will be “eligible to vote on their mobile device using the Democracy Live platform.”

The King County Conservation District is a natural resources assistance agency created “to promote the sustainable use of natural resources through responsible stewardship.” It covers most of the county — including Seattle.

Funded by the Department of Defense and selected for the Department of Homeland Security Executive Committee for Critical Voting Infrastructure, privately held Democracy Live is “is the largest provider of cloud and tablet-based voting technologies in the U.S.” and says its solution is “auditable, transparent, secure and accurate.”

Democracy Live developed OmniBallot to be a fully accessible, ADA compliant secure balloting portal available to each of the 200 million voters in the U.S. Democracy Live teamed with Amazon AWS to ensure OmniBallot meets all requirements for security, scalability and accessibility. The OmniBallot secure portal has been deployed in over 1,000 elections across the U.S, serving over 15 million voters in hundreds of jurisdictions since 2008.

The Amazon AWS-driven process creates a paper ballot after a voter’s selections are downloaded by the elections administrator and printed for tabulation. “A voter verified paper ballot is always available for a hand recount if necessary,” the company says.

OmniBallot use AWS  to ensure “immutable” ballot storage and the voter’s ballot selections are encrypted and stored in the AWS system.

Meanwhile, the election’s choices might not be as exciting as the technology. The vote will determine one of the five seats on the KCD Supervisor Board. Your options are Stephen “Dutch” Deutschman or Chris Porter. You’ll probably also want to use your mobile device to sort those two out. Voting begins January 22 and continues through 8 PM on Election Day, February 11.

You can start the voting process here.

Visit King County Elections for more about the February special election.

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6 thoughts on “King County rolling out Democracy Live ‘mobile voting’ for February election

  1. I’ve got a great idea: let’s put the foundation of American democracy on AWS–what could go wrong?

    At a certain level no database storage is “immutable,” and even AWS was crashed by a single junior dev who messed up a copy and paste ( AWS might have the some of the world’s best infrastructure, but I find it impossible to believe the developers who built it couldn’t modify it.

  2. Every voting system has vulnerabilities. Glad to see some tax savings here- this will save taxpayers a lot of $ in the current stamped voting envelopes paid for with city dollars.
    Hopefully next we can add referendum voting online- a much faster and effective way than door to door hand signature gathering. This would help Seattle citizens keep the city council’s willy-nilly law-passing in check- if they’re not going to allow us to vote on important issues, at least it could be easier to reverse their decisions.

    • I think you greatly over-estimate how secure your data is.

      The work required to tamper thousands of paper ballots would be extreme, surely involving broad conspiracy, break-ins, forgery, etc.

      Editing a database, on the other hand, is a piece of cake that can be done by a single developer with a few lines of code. Combine that reality with the obvious potential conflicts of interest (Sawant’s election night party literally had a 30ft banner proclaiming “tax amazon”), and you have a disastrous situation on your hands.

      I’m all for digital voting, but I can’t see how it could be done with even a fraction of the security of paper ballots, and leaving the management to Amazon has to be about the worst implementation possible.

  3. Very disappointed in KC Elections, who should know better than anyone that nothing is “immutable” where the Internet is involved. Nothing. The county commission needs to kill this ill-conceived experiment dead before it gets expanded to more consequential elections (and mark my words, in the absence of strong action, it WILL expand). We are treading on very dangerous ground here.

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