Pinto’s mobile voting bill wins support from black leaders

A bill introduced by 2 DC Ward Council Member Brooke Pinto on February 18 that would allow district residents to vote by mail digitally has generated support among key African-American leaders.

The bill, the Mobile Voting Options for Turnout Equity Amendment Act of 2022, would allow residents to use their smartphones, tablets or computers to vote and lead the DC Board of Elections [BOE] establish a secure system that protects voter information and the integrity of elections.

“Our city and our nation have well-established values ​​that voting rights are civil rights; empowering District residents by making voting easy and accessible to all is fundamentally important to advancing these values,” Pinto, a Democrat, said in a press release. “Despite the district’s efforts to increase voting access, many residents continue to face barriers to voting.”

Pinto noted that in 2018, less than 19% of DC’s registered voters voted in the 2018 primaries and only 46% voted in the general election, according to BOE statistics. Even in the 2020 election cycle which saw historic turnout, Pinto said only 28% of registered voters voted in the primaries and 67% in the general election.

Kemry Hughes, a Ward 8 representative on the DC Democratic State Committee, likes Pinto’s legislation.

“Mobile voting is the way to go,” Hughes said. “Mobile voting will make voting more accessible to people. We have an aging population that may not be able to comfortably go to the polls. We also have people with disabilities who cannot go to the polls and vote without certain difficulties. Mobile voting works because almost everyone has a computer in hand.

Specifics of the Mobile Voting Bill

Under Pinto’s legislation, voters would not need to go to a polling place. In a manner similar to electronic confirmation of filing of tax returns, voters can verify that their voting choices are correctly recorded and track them to confirm that their submissions have been correctly received and accepted.

Pinto said 85% of adults in the district owned a smartphone in 2021 and noted that financial transactions such as filing taxes and managing bank accounts are done by devices. The bill also contains measures to guard against hacking and calls for routine maintenance by BOE staff.

Pinto’s bill was co-introduced by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Council members 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).

Supporters praise the bill and voice their concerns

Akosua Ali, chairman of the DC NAACP, supports the mobile voting bill. (NAACP.org)

Akosua Ali, who is president of the district branch of the NAACP, is embracing mobile voting.

“The NAACP calls for mobile voting as an additional option to increase voter turnout in the District of Columbia because mobile voting can help remove barriers to voting and increase turnout for black voters,” she said. in an e-mail to the Informer.

“A recent poll showed that 70% of DC residents support the idea of ​​mobile voting. In 2020, less than 58% of non-white voters participated,” she said.

Ali said, “Voting rights are under attack across the country, but in the District of Columbia, we have a historic opportunity to become the first to allow residents to vote from their mobile devices,” he said. she declared. “The NAACP works to ensure that voting is accessible to everyone. Voters should not be forced to choose between working and voting. Black and brown people disproportionately work in frontline service industries, providing restricted access to leave work to vote during business hours. Voting must be safe, easy and accessible to everyone because our lives depend on it.

Tajuan Farmer, Legislative President of the DC National Federation of the Blind, said “the Mobile Voters Bill will ensure that I, as a blind person and a person of color, make my voice heard.”

“Special adjustments can be made to my smartphone so that I can vote by voice,” Farmer said. “I won’t have someone standing over me at a polling station to see who I’m voting for. Moreover, I will not even have to go to a polling station if this bill becomes law.

The Reverend Lionel Edmonds, president of the Conference of Baptist Missionary Ministers, Washington, DC and Area, said the concerns about piracy, while valid, appear to be addressed in Pinto’s legislation.

“We will fix bugs in the system if attacked,” he said. “We know there are enemies of democracy and we will deal with those enemies. The good outweighs the bad. You keep putting money in the bank just because there’s a hack.

@JamesWrightJr10