Voting by phone: We are closer than you think

Tuesday, I stood in long a meandering line at the parish health unit to early vote.

While standing in the line, I noticed that every third person or so either had their driver’s license on their phone or had their full sample ballot already marked and open on their phone, including me and my wife.

When I saw the long lines and the number of people using state-approved technology, it prompted the question, “What stops the state from making the next obvious step, allowing each person to cast an electronic vote on his/her phone?”
Many people who stood in line Tuesday were aware of and used the two state-approved phone apps in the voting process.

The first is an app called “LA Wallet.” This app puts a copy of citizen’s driver’s license on their phone. Each person has a username and password. When opened a perfect replica of the person’s driver’s license appears, including the bar-code, endorsement and any flags that may be applied to the license. Since it is state approved and verified, it is used by thousands across the state for identification.

If stopped by a police officer, their license is on their phone. It is also accepted by banks and lending institutions that now require ID to make deposits and withdrawals.

Tuesday, my wife and I showed our phone ID with no problems. We both took our phone ballots on the Geaux Vote app into the voting booth and touched on the screen the same items we pre-checked on the Geaux Vote app, in the same order.

The second App is called “Geaux Vote.” This state-approved app is tied to the Secretary of State’s office. We didn’t need to look at the paper ballots pasted on the door of the voting precinct, I typed in my name and zip code, and my ballot information appeared on my screen.

Every issue from the Secretary of State, amendments, district judges and school board elections all appeared on my phone with a little box next to each item that allowed me to pre-check my ballot and take it into the voting booth with me to use as a guide.

There is no confusion because only the school district candidates you are eligible to vote for appear on your ballot. Ballot issues you are not eligible to decide do not appear on your ballot.

Voters can use the “Geaux Vote” app to review the election results in real time without waiting for them to be posted on television because the app is tied directly into the Secretary of State’s computers. Generally, all of the Secretary of State’s election-related website options are now publicly available on its app.

Since the state has developed a state-approved electronic ID system. Since it also has a state-approved voter ballot that is individualized, the next logical step is for the state to make it possible for citizens to use its present approved technology to allow citizens to vote using their phones and “Geaux Vote” app.

Since every voter must have a state ID or driver’s license to vote, the next step is obvious. Those voting by app could use a combination of their license or ID numbers, username and password, to submit their checked ballot with a screenshot of the ballot stored both on the voter’s phone and at the Secretary of State’s office (without the voter’s name) in case there is a challenge later.

It would help shut-ins, the elderly and handicapped. It would save millions of dollars and increase voter participation.

It is an idea worth exploring.

Maybe those with the power will think about it as they stand in long lines to vote, with the technology to avoid the lines already on their phones.