Katy Owens Hubler
As the “impending crisis” in voting technology is increasingly discussed across the country—see the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s final report and this article in State Legislatures magazine—some jurisdictions are making strides toward answering the big question, “What’s next?”
Denver Elections Division is already a leader in innovative ways to make both voting and counting ballots more efficient.
A few years ago, as more and more voters opted to vote by mail in Denver, the division pioneered BallotTrace to allow voters to track their ballot at various stages of the process. Voters can sign up for text or email alerts notifying them when the mail ballot has been printed, mailed, delivered, and eventually received by the Elections Division.
Denver has also received recognition recently for its development of eSign, a mobile petition signing application. The app allows candidates who are looking to qualify for the ballot to collect petition signatures using a tablet. By interfacing with the statewide voter registration database, the app allows petition circulators to immediately confirm that a signer is a registered voter. The voter can sign the petition directly on the tablet, and petitions are later printed at the Elections Division where each signature can be reviewed.
Denver also has a voter information app that provides information about who is on the ballot, where to vote. and election results. Denver also developed iApp (iPad Accessibility Pilot Project) to permit voters in group residential facilities to vote independently and privately using an iPad as a ballot marking device.
Denver’s newest innovation, which was on display this week during the city’s municipal election, is a fully integrated voting system developed in partnership with Dominion Voting, a Denver-based vendor.
The new system is intended to streamline the voting experience and bring all of the behind-the-scenes functions under one roof. Denver’s legacy system, like many throughout the country, involved three different vendors and used seven different databases. The new system uses just one “suite” to run all aspects of the election from designing the ballot to tabulating mail-in ballots and in-person ballots cast on a touch-screen tablet, to tallying and reporting results.
On hand to view demonstrations of the new system were election officials from all over the country and a few luminaries: Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams; California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who documented his experience in an informative Twitter stream; and U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioners Christy McCormick and Tom Hicks.
After the demonstration, McCormick noted that it’s exciting to see innovation, but that new systems should always be evaluated with the values of privacy, independence, secrecy and, especially, security in mind. “In most fields security is trade-off, but in elections you have to get it right the first time,” she noted.
The new system on display in Denver is a pilot project and has not yet been certified by the EAC or the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
To learn more about innovative solutions in voting and elections technology, join us in Santa Fe June 3-5 for the Policy and Elections Technology: A Legislative Perspective conference. The agenda includes sessions on voting technology 101; the impact of legislation on voting system design; the technology implications of early voting, all-mail voting and vote centers; what is pushing change in voting technology; and MORE!
The deadline for hotel reservations at the group rate is Wednesday May 13.
Reserve a Room Now
Katy Owens Hubler is an elections policy specialist for NCSL.