Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hawaii vote is first all digital

Some 115,000 voters in Honolulu's neighborhood council election were able to pick winners entirely online or via telephone. The voting, which started May 6, ended Friday.

City officials say the experiment appears to have generated few problems; it has even saved the financially strapped city around $100,000.

"It is kind of the wave of the future," said Bryan Mick, a community relations specialist with the city Neighborhood Commission, "so we're kind of glad in a way that we got to be the ones who initiated it."

Web voting, which produces no paper record, cannot be used in city council or state elections because state law bars voting systems that do not include a vote verification process, said Warren Stewart, legislative policy director for Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

Lori Steele, head of Everyone Counts, the San Diego-based firm chosen by the commission to run the election, said Web voting will make it easier for civilian and military voters who live overseas or those who just don't have time in their busy days to visit a polling place.

The commission's move to digital voting was dictated more by a lack of money than a strong desire to use the Internet in new ways.