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Elections / Technology

DC Council won’t push a mobile voting bill in 2023. Here’s what that means for the movement

Councilmember Brooke Pinto said she won't support a bill in 2023. But one DC-area consultant isn't so sure that mobile voting in DC is a lost cause.

Voting. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

One prediction for 2023: mobile voting won’t make an appearance in DC Council bills.

DC Councilmember Brooke Pinto, who introduced a mobile voting bill in February, says she will no longer pursue a bill that would have let DC residents vote from devices such as phones and tablets. Pinto said that after conversations with experts, residents and staff, she thinks mobile voting needs more security protections and isn’t ready to move forward in the district.

It all started last year when Councilmember Trayon White introduced a bill to offer mobile voting alongside traditional mail-in and in-person options. This inspired Tusk Philanthropies, a nonprofit focused on anti-hunger and mobile voting initiatives, to bring its Mobile Voting project to the district.

Tusk, named for venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, decided to implement this in DC thanks to the support from the council.

“That’s sort of what prompted our involvement, just knowing that there was support from councilmembers in exploring this, and we were really interested in supporting that effort,” Tusk’s Mobile Voting project director Jocelyn Bucaro told Technical.ly at the time.

Ward 2’s Pinto introduced another similar bill earlier this year before abandoning it this week, essentially ending DC Council’s ostensible support for mobile voting.

But Michael O’Brien, a DC-area advisor to mobile voting startup Follow My Vote, still has hope. In fact, he expects mobile voting to be widespread by 2028.

“I see state and local government leaders, on both sides of the aisle, open to exploring the use of mobile voting. And that will only increase and blockchain/distributed ledger technologies become better understood and more widely adopted,” O’Brien wrote to Technical.ly in an email. “I expect that this bill will get another push next year.”

While Pinto is stepping away from mobile voting, he noted that others are still working on this broader movement. He pointed to the Government Blockchain Association’s voting working group, which has been developing standards over the past year that it’s hoping to present to election regulators. He also noted that several states have used or are exploring mobile voting.

“I would love to see DC be a leader in this space,” O’Brien said. “It would have a huge impact on the DC tech community and the symbolism of mobile voting within steps of the Capitol and the White House could really propel the mobile voting movement forward.”

Companies: District of Columbia

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