“I Voted” took on a whole new meaning during the recent special election in Oregon when nearly 100 voters cast their ballots with the help of iPads. The tablet device, which many people associate with surfing the Web, was used to allow disabled voters better access to their ballots. According to Steve Trout, elections director for Oregon, the elections division hatched the idea of using the iPad for accessible voting as a way to save money and provide greater access.
“We have been spending large sums of money on our accessible voting system but having very few people use it. We wanted to see if there were alternatives that were less expensive, provided greater utility and were easier to use for both voters and election officials,” Trout explained. “We played around with the idea here long enough to think it was worthy of a pilot.”
Using software created by Everyone Counts, staff from the elections division spread out on Election Day to test the new program with seniors and voters with disabilities. The software allows voters to download their ballot, mark their choice, print out their ballot and return it just like they would their regular mail-in ballot. Like other accessible voting devices the iPad allows voters to enlarge their ballot for better visibility and is compatible with several accessibility devices such as Sip-and-Puff technology.
The pilot test in Oregon used Everyone Counts eLect Platform that automatically operates on any web-enabled device. The platform was customized for Oregon to include ballot data, voter registration data and the state’s seal colors and design formats. “We were really astounded by the success of the iPad pilot,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown.. “We had 89 Oregonians use the iPad to mark their ballots in November, that is a huge increase from the last General Election in 2010 when only six people statewide used the accessible computer stations. We look forward to the second phase of the pilot in January making the ballot more accessible to Oregonians with disabilities.”
Among the 89 voters who participated in the iPad program not one reported a problem, although Trout pointed out that there were a few “lessons learned” that according to Trout will make the experience better next time around. For instance, because many of the participants were seniors, when they came to the step where they had to enter their birthdate, they had to scroll through quite a way to get to their correct birth year. Trout said they will look into changing the starting date range to somewhere around 1930.
… Although everyone seemed happy with the device, Pamela Smith with Verified Voting does have some security concerns. “Given there have been concerns in the past about being able to discern voters’ choices on other electronic voting devices through various means, even when that device is not (deliberately) networked, this would appear to amplify some of those concerns, especially for a device that is meant to preserve privacy,” Smith said. Smith noted that the program is just “a whisker away” from Internet voting.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.