Building the new voting machine of the future — right here in California

150 150 John Guenther

The future (of voting machines) is now, in California. (Photo Credit: radiofan)

Election officials around the country are watching what is going on in Los Angeles County.

It’s in L.A. where County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is leading an effort to modernize and streamline the voting system for the County.

“These days, more and more local election officials across the country confront the twin challenges of aging equipment and dwindling budgets,” said Doug Chapin, who heads the Future of California Elections, which was formed to examine and address the unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system.

This week Logan’s office announced it is kicking off the design phase of the Voting Systems Assessment Project (VSAP). It is working with IDEO, a global design and innovation firm, to create three design concepts focused on how voters will interact with the voting process. Those concepts are expected to be completed this summer. A model is expected to be selected by the end of the year. In the meantime, the public is being involved at every stage.

 “Our approach to voting system modernization is an example of out-of-the box thinking and participatory government,” RR/CC Dean Logan said. “Since the voting system issues of 2000 and 2004, this is one of the first attempts to focus on system development and implementation with voters in mind and the public’s trust as a core value.”

The size of Los Angeles County (it is the largest electoral jurisdiction in the country) and the ethnic complexity of its population help make it a perfect laboratory for what the election machines of the future may look like. The new system aims to bring an innovative and user-friendly approach to casting a ballot. for the five million registered voters in the county.

“The county’s news approach, letting communities design, acquire and manage their own voting technology could give localities a new and more cost-effective way to ensure that voters’ ballots are tallied accurately and securely,” Chapin told California Forward Reporting.

You don’t change electoral systems overnight. In fact, Logan’s office launched VSAP in 2009 to modernize the County’s 30-year old voting system.

Logan’s office is taking an approach that ensures greater citizen input from the academic community, public interest organizations and policy makers — an effort to increase voter confidence that is two years in the making.

The Executive Director of California Forward, an organization that is part of FOCE, also praised Logan for both his innovation and for his openness.

“We congratulate Dean Logan on his creativity in developing a new and responsive voting system, his openness to public participation in the project, and his commitment to transparency in the process,” said Jim Mayer.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on how this project proceeds in the coming months.


John Guenther

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