September 03, 2014

Electronic VotingAccording to a recent news release from the National Association of Counties, some areas of California and Texas are leading the charge in open-source voting, an initiative that would use software designed by counties to run on inexpensive computer terminals to design, print and count paper ballots.

With many counties facing a need to replace existing election management systems, the open-source voting system could potentially save counties lots of money and provide an overall improvement to the existing voting process. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said in the article, “It’s the same urgency we all feel in counties everywhere. We all bought new voting systems at the same time and now we’re all watching them approach their ends-of-life at the same time. Counties just don’t have multi-millions to pay for new voting systems.”

This new initiative comes twelve years after the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandated new voting technology. As these machines came to the end of their lives, county officials say the voting machine vendors were very helpful in providing information about new machines, but many of the election officials in charge of purchases do not like to be rushed. The open-source initiative would provide alternative options so this challenge doesn’t happen in the future. “It’s safe to say we’ll have more ability to negotiate savings by the sheer reality that we won’t be tied to a single vendor,” said Efrain Escobedo, manager of governmental and legislative affairs for Los Angeles County’s registrar-recorder.

As these new technologies continue to be adopted by counties across the United States, automated testing tools will likely be in place to ensure all components of the software will perform as expected when deployed into the system.  

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