Voting by Phone
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Would you vote by mobile phone using the internet?

Voting by Phone

In July 2021, Amazon founder and multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos made news for self-funding an eleven-minute trip into outer space. That trip cost Bezos about $5.5 billion dollars. It led to some debates about whether or not billionaires should have a responsibility to spend their money on the public good. Now, Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist and former political strategist is funding an effort to promote Internet voting. Election Central examines the idea and some of the questions surrounding the effort.

An Ambitious Project

Bradley Tusk is the founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings–a venture capitalist firm that invests in promising business ideas. Tusk also founded the nonprofit organization Tusk Philanthropies. On September 30, 2021, Tusk Philanthropies announced a $10 million grant to develop a safe, effective system of online voting. Tusk believes that every American should be able to vote in every election on his or her phone. And his goal is to accomplish this by 2028.

Tusk has chosen two companies to head up this ambitious project: Assembly Voting, an elections technology company from Denmark; and the OSET Institute, which is a U.S. nonprofit group that focuses on election technology and research.

Mobile Voting?

The theory of online voting focuses on some main advantages. Voters do not need to wait in long lines at the polls because one can vote whenever and wherever they wish. This is expected to increase voter turnout. But voting security is the main concern. A key element of the idea of online voting is that thevoter should be able to trace their vote through the entire process of it being recorded and transmitted to an election official. This also allows the government to verify that the person casting the vote is the registered voter. This will be a key component of Tusk’s proposed online voting system.

Some critics of the online voting system are also worried about Assembly, the company responsible for handling the vote-tracing process. While Assembly’s technology has been widely used in its home country of Denmark, as well as for international entities like the European Parliament, it has no experience with U.S. elections.

Tusk’s Perfect Moment

Former president Donald Trump made news by claiming that the 2020 presidential elections were affected by widespread voter fraud. These claims have been proven false multiple times. Is this the time to try to launch a vote-by-phone plan? Tusk says this is the ideal time for such a project because the more people who are able to vote easily, the more trust they will gain in the process. Furthermore, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has already transitioned so much of our lives online that Tusk believes it’s time for elections to follow suit.

But he also acknowledges that it won’t be an easy road. Tusk says that three things must happen for his dream to become a reality. First, the technology must be built. Second, the laws must be changed to support it. And third, a change this dramatic will require building a nationwide network of public support.

What Do You Think? Do you agree with Bradley Tusk that this is the best time to begin creating an online voting system? Explain.
Valerie Cumming

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