Ahead of Nov. 6, states are making innovative changes to make it easier to cast ballots and get information about where, when, and how to vote. On tap for next year: secretaries of state offices are set to carve out a larger presence on Facebook and Twitter, roll out pilot programs offering voters the chance to do everything from marking their ballot on a tablet to finding a polling place on a smartphone app, and allow expanded online voting for some in the military or living overseas.
In Oregon, where disabled residents used iPads to cast ballots during a pilot test for the special election earlier this month, officials say they are ready to deploy the tablets again in January. And the state’s step forward could very well spark a trend: the secretary of state’s office told POLITICO that Washington state, Idaho, California, West Virginia and Johnson County, Kansas have all contacted Oregon about the use of the iPads for voting.
There are also new programs on tap for the back end — in Long Beach, Calif., for example, officials will track the city’s polls and their contents with radio frequency identification chips, a kind of high-tech barcode. Throughout election night, the location of the polls and whether the results there have been reported will light up on a bingo-type board and show if the ballot boxes are securely in transit or scanned and at the dropbox center, City of Long Beach clerk Larry Herrera said.
And in Connecticut, where election officials must contend with a stringent post-election audit, high-speed scanners — at about $100,000 a piece — will likely be used in 2012 and allow the state to read and count 10,000 ballots every fifteen minutes. The new scanners would mean a big change for the state, where officials have previously had to do the tally by hand, town by town, Secretary of State Denise Merrill said.