Oregon adopts iPad voting system

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 8 2011 10:47 a.m. MST

In this Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, photo, Lewis Crew, 75, receives help from a member of a voter assistance team while voting on a iPad, in Beaverton, Ore. Voters in five Oregonian counties are filling out and returning their mail-in ballots for a Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, special primary election to replace former Congressman David Wu, who resigned following a sex scandal. Using an iPad, disabled voters will be able to call up the right ballot and tap the screen to pick a candidate. The voters then can print the completed ballot and stuff it in an envelope to sign and drop in the mail.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

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If you want to vote for a congressman in Oregon, there is an app for that.

County election workers in Oregon are using iPads and portable printers to help voters with disabilities cast ballots. The officials are bringing Apple Inc.’s technology to parks, nursing homes and community centers to help voters who may have trouble with traditional paper ballots, according to The Associated Press.

“It’s a lot simpler for me. I think it's a great setup they got,” Lewis Crews, a 75 year old suffering from severe arthritis, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Though computers have been used in the past, this is the first time a tablet has been used to collect votes.

The pilot program is making its debut during the special primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Wu. Oregon election officials haven’t seen this in other states, making them the first, according to The Oregonian.

"We're really at the edge," Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown told The Oregonian. "We want to make voting as convenient as possible."

Despite help from Apple, the convenience of the new voting venture comes at a cost.

Apple donated five of the iPads used in the program, and Oregon spent $75,000 to make the software, according to the Associated Press article.

Oregon’s iPad voting system is also used for more than just choosing a candidate.

Both Brown and Steve Trout, Oregon’s state elections director, said voters can update their registration, track their ballots and ask questions online, according to Politico.

“Apple was by far the easiest and most effective for assisting people that have accessibility needs. And that was part of the goal of our test pilot, to find out which devices were most effective,” Trout told Politico.

Concerns about the security of electronic voting may come up as the program progresses.

Computer scientists were able to hack California e-voting machines in 2007. During the 2008 election year, some states abandoned touch-screen voting systems over reliability concerns among politicians and security experts, according to CNET.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

TWITTER: @joeyferguson

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