One state’s election process broke new ground last week. In Oregon, citizens with disabilities had the option of absentee voting via iPad. The pilot program was offered in five counties (Washington, Columbia, Multnomah, Yamhill and Clatsop) in and around Portland.
Election workers toted iPads, temporarily on loan from Apple, to assisted living centers where the voter was able to complete their ballot on the tablet, then send to a portable printer.
A custom software application, which cost the state $75,000 to develop, was installed on the iPads for the election cycle. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown said the state plans to use the iPads again in January for a special general election, and mentioned utilizing the software in the future to provide accessible voting for military personnel and citizens who are overseas.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s blog:
If the pilot proves successful, the state elections office will make iPad’s available to all 36 counties. “I won my first race for the Oregon House of Representatives by seven votes,” said Secretary Brown. “I know how important every vote is and as your Secretary of State I am working hard to make voting more accessible to all eligible Oregonians.
With the popularity of Apple’s iPad, and the accessibility of tablet computing, will we soon see similar applications around the country? A mail ballot 2.0 program that embraces new technology to increase voter participation? We sure hope so.