A new voting system prototype for Los Angeles County, which will replace a system based on technology from the 1960s, was unveiled Thursday in the city of Los Angeles. “Today’s event was received with great excitement,” said Brenda Duran, a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Voting Systems Assessment Project, established in 2009 to create the new voting system. “L.A. County’s core system that is used today has been in existence for almost 60 years. People are excited for a new system.” The new voting system will replace the current one known as “InkaVote Plus.” One of the main drawbacks of the current system: It does not allow for any technical upgrades. “Because of the technology, we knew it was time to replace it,” Project Manager Monica Flores said. She added that with limited voting system options, the county decided to design a whole new system.
California: Los Angeles County’s $13M touch-screen voting system gets previewed at Austin’s SXSW | KPCC
Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan presented his much-anticipated voting makeover project this week at South by Southwest Eco, an offshoot of the famous music festival in Austin, Texas. The conference is a flocking ground of sorts for new products and technology that focus on social change. “South by Southwest was a great platform for us to come and share this specifically from a design element,” Logan said. “We felt like it was very well-received.” Since 2009, the county has been working on a major elections revamp that, if fully implemented, will allow voters to mark their choices using touchscreen devices, submit ballots via smartphones and vote on one of several days.
Supervisors took a significant step Tuesday to overhaul Los Angeles County’s antiquated ink-based balloting system by approving a $15-million contract with Palo Alto consultant Ideo for the design of a more modern way to record votes. Elections officials — who must serve about 4.8 million registered voters scattered across 5,000 precincts — began planning for a new system five years ago. The process was guided by an advisory committee that included local city clerks, voting rights and open government advocates, and officials from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The current system is known as InkaVote and requires voters to mark a paper ballot with their selections. Under the new system, projected to roll out in 2020, voters would make their selections using a touch screen, and the voting machine would then print a paper ballot to be tallied.
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.”