Push for mobile voting ignited in wake of Hurricane Ian

ORLANDO, Fl. — Voting can be a difficult process for many different groups across the country. For those affected by natural disasters, many voting centers were destroyed. But voting can also be difficult for people who can’t get off work, our troops overseas, and voters with disabilities.

The good news is that work is underway to make the 2024 presidential election more accessible to everyone.

“What if we could reinvent our electoral process? What if we completely reimagine the way voters engage with their government,” asked Ramón Pérez, founder of the nonprofit Voting Rights Brigade.

Perez asks the big questions, but he’s also part of the solution.

“Our goal is to go all over the country,” he said. It is working to bring the mobile voting platform, Voatz, nationwide. He said he hopes to create a future where elections are accessible to everyone and where voters can vote from their phones.

“Basically, we’re saying you can vote from your couch. You don’t have to worry about getting the day off work. You don’t have to worry about getting across town. You feel that sense of confidence that your voice is being heard.” Perez said.

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Mobile voting through Voatz is already being used in Colorado, West Virginia, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, South Dakota, Michigan and Massachusetts for municipal elections. With more support from community members, more states could join.

“The technology is built in such a way that it is not hackable, that it is transparent so that you can see that the votes are correct. You can have independent third-party audits,” said Pérez

Perez said mobile voting could help vulnerable populations of all kinds stay engaged in democracy, from voters with disabilities to victims of natural disasters.

“In Florida, election season is also hurricane season. Whether it’s wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, or whatever, people displaced by some kind of natural disaster shouldn’t have to give up their right to be heard in the voting process”, said Pérez.

It’s taking mobile voting a step further with the launch of the Digital Democracy Project.

It allows people to vote from home on their phone or computer, both for elections and for specific legislation. Perez wants voters in the future to have the opportunity to make their voices heard in every piece of legislation that local, state and federal officials work on.

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This would increase access for all to participate, especially those with disabilities.

James Chip Byers works with Perez to expand voting options for people with disabilities. Implementing mobile voting is their biggest project yet.

“We now have handicap accessible voting machines in every precinct and in every county. So that was a huge accomplishment,” Byers said.

Byers knows it’s not enough. Some voters will still be excluded. That’s why he wants mobile voting to be available in every state.

“Voting really hasn’t moved with the pace of technology,” Byers said. “I feel like it’s a shame because voting is one of the most important things we can do with our lives and we should have cutting edge technology.”

Byers said wider use of mobile voting and the Digital Democracy Project could prevent those with disabilities from feeling isolated and excluded from the electoral process.

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“Disability is still the one minority group that people don’t really understand. They think of them as people who need help,” Byers said. “We don’t want them to help us, we just want them to include us. And we want to help make the world a better place.”

That’s why Byers and Pérez hope that by 2024, more people will be willing to try both the Digital Democracy Project and mobile voting through Voatz.

“We’d love to see people try it for themselves and see how it goes,” Perez said.

“Over time, it will prove that investing in technology and the best we have to offer and bringing that into our political system will pay off in the end,” Byers said. “Without a doubt.”

If you want more information about the Digital Democracy Project, click HERE. If you want more information about the Voatz mobile voting system, click HERE.

To connect with the Voting Rights Brigade, click HERE.


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