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Clemson University team develops new voting technology


Juan Gilbert, chair of human-situated computing at Clemson College, demonstrates High III, a brand new on-line balloting technology. The Greenville (S.C.) Information


CLEMSON, S.C. — With the flip of the calendar to 2014, the political season moves into hyper mode as voters across the country prepare to go to the polls for mid-term elections and local issues.

In South Carolina, memories of long lines at the polls and questions about the electronic voting machines are likely to recur.

STORY: Groups eager to provide solutions to voting problems

A Clemson University professor says he has some technological solutions to those problems.

Juan Gilbert, chair of human-centered computing at Clemson, envisions a time when voters will be able to cast their ballots online without leaving home, and when each vote can be verified without relying solely on electronic data.

Things are moving in that direction already, he said.

For 10 years, Gilbert and his students have been developing a program called Prime III — Premier Third Generation Voting System — that can be downloaded to a tablet, computer or smartphone.

The technology promises to be easier to use, cheaper, more accurate and more accessible to voters with disabilities than current voting machines, Gilbert said.

“Prime III is the world’s most accessible voting technology ever created,” he said. “And we did that in our labs.”

Clemson is making the software available free, and several manufacturers — including the maker of the touch-screen machines now used statewide in South Carolina — are considering it, he said.

He said the system will be used later this year in Wisconsin.

Prime III is the world’s most accessible voting technology ever created. And we did that in our labs.

— Juan Gilbert, chair of human-centered computing at Clemson University

The South Carolina Election Commission, however, isn’t considering any new voting system now, spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

“The state’s voting system is on the downside of its life cycle, though, and the (state Election Commission) is preparing for its eventual replacement by requesting funding from the General Assembly,” he said.

Once funding is in place and the commission decides to replace the current system, the state would seek proposals, he said.

The state spent more than $34 million for about 11,400 iVotrinic voting machines in 2004 and 2005, according to a report released last year by the state Legislative Audit Council.

That’s about $3,000 per machine, compared with about $500 for an iPad.

The current machines leave no paper trail, which means the only verification of the accuracy of the count is re-checking the data in the computers, the audit council report says.

In the 2013 election, audits were done only on elections for state office and higher, according to the report.


After voters make their selections on the screen, they are printed on a sheet of paper — only the names of the candidates chosen, not the full ballot. Current voting machines in 16 states leave no paper trail for verification purposes.(Photo: Ken Osburn, The Greenville (S.C.) News)

“One concern, especially with local elections, is the short amount of time between the election and certification,” the report says.

South Carolina is one of 16 states that uses paperless voting machines, which prompted a grade of “inadequate” by the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-partisan, non-revenue group that advocates for accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections.

Within the machine developed at Clemson, after the voter makes his alternatives, they’re printed on a sheet of paper — most effective names of the candidates chosen, no longer the entire ballot. That paper is fed right into a desktop that reads, scans, outlets and counts what’s on the paper, Gilbert mentioned.

Clemson has developed software for that course of, however the entire hardware is commercially on hand, he mentioned.

Voters with disabilities would be capable of use the identical gadget as everybody else with High III, he mentioned. Now different machines need to be arrange, and ballot staff ceaselessly do not know the right way to use them, Gilbert stated.

An auditory machine permits visually impaired individuals and folks unable to vote by means of hand to vote by way of voice.

Gilbert and his college students even have developed a machine through which voters will have the ability to make an appointment to head to the polls at a selected time as a way to reduce down on traces.

Every other machine developed at Clemson and getting used this year in Florida permits in a foreign country militia personnel to vote on-line.

For safety, the voter is attached to a ballot employee by means of a video hyperlink much like Skype, Gilbert stated. The ballot employee should check that the particular person they see on the reveal suits a photograph of the particular person within the voter registration rolls.

That machine will be tailored to be used by using someone, he mentioned.

However he would not predict everybody to head for that.

“We now have discovered that lots of people identical to to head to the polls to vote,” he stated.

Barnett additionally writes for The Greenville (S.C.) Information


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