Envisioning a future that would make the founding fathers proud, Los Angeles County is investing $13.6 million to revolutionize its voting system and possibly set the standard for the rest of the country, too. After decades of putting up with the clunky InkaVote and its even clunkier predecessors — Votomatic punch cards, anyone? — the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to develop a prototype with a touch screen and other high-tech innovations designed to serve the different needs of the county’s nearly 5 million registered voters. Barring any serious glitches, the new “ballot marking machine” will be field tested in 2017 and mass produced in 2018, in time for the gubernatorial election. “If this works well in L.A. County, it could be a game changer for the nation,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan organization that advocates election accuracy, transparency and verifiability. Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the machine’s engineering specifications, intellectual property and functional prototypes would be nonproprietary and remain in the public domain. “From the beginning, we’ve adopted the principle of doing this in a very transparent manner so other jurisdictions can take advantage of the data,” he said. The project’s first priority is to upgrade the county’s voting system but Logan added, “If we can do that in a way that is transferrable to other jurisdictions, that can advance voting systems across the country, it would be icing on the cake.”
It may not have a catchy name, but the proposed new voting system is state-of-the-art, sophisticated and intuitive. The touch screen can be customized to display foreign languages, larger fonts and high-contrast backgrounds. Voters can also select candidates by pressing buttons on an attached handheld device.
Other advanced features include the ability to process voice command and to “read” interactive sample ballots on smartphones. Voters would simply hold their smartphones over the scanner, and the names of their pre-selected candidates would appear on the touch screen to be printed on the official ballot.
The machine also would allow ballots to be cast in conveniently located “voting centers” over an extended period of time, instead of in a specific polling place and only on Election Day. It would print the names of the candidates on the ballot, so poll workers would not have to interpret marks like on the InkaVote.
Full Article: Democracy gets a facelift | Zev Yaroslavsky.