Voting by iPad

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News from the USA: Voting by iPad

An ipad presented with symbols to allow a voter to choose a candidate

An iPad can use symbols to present a range of voting options to a voter

A new way of voting using an iPad has been trialed in the USA. In an interesting way of making voting more accessible they are using iPad for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to vote.

In Oregon, USA they’re thinking innovatively for their up and coming election as reports show that they’re planning to pilot an iPod voting program.

This new program will allow residents of the state who have disabilities and mobility problems the chance to vote via an iPad.  The hope is that by providing an iPad to vote, this will alleviate the problems for people who have previously had issues marking their ballot papers. The new program will allow for a ballot to be pulled up on the iPad screen and the user can simply tap the screen to vote for their chosen candidate. They could also use a ‘sip and puff device’ if they could not use their fingers. The ballot paper can then be printed, it’s as simple as that. The ballot can then be posted by mail just like any other postal vote.

A range of devices were tested by the US state before they opted for the iPad as their chosen voting tablet. Officials explained that it was the simplest and most user friendly device tested. Oregon have been gifted five iPads by Apple and the software was developed by the state IT workers. There are also plans to allow voters to connect the iPad, using Bluetooth, to their own joysticks, paddles and other preferred assistive technology devices using Bluetooth technology. They can also adjust font sizes and screen display options to give even better accessibility.

Accessible voting by iPad in the UK?

This new innovation is being piloted in Oregon but we think that if it is successful then it could be considered for people in the UK. Postal votes were introduced here to enable people to vote who find it difficult to visit a Polling Station. However, Postal votes rely on someone to be able to open an envelope and use fine motor skills to write on ballot papers and return them. For people with significant disabilities this is still an issue and there is also the issue of ensuring that the vote is cast as they wish, even when it is done by a carer or relative. There has also been many cases where postal votes have been used in postal vote fraud. In the last General Election 2010 more than 30 allegations of postal vote irregularities at different boroughs were reported to the police. So the current system has been tarnished by abuse and corruption.

 The use of an iPad for voting could be hugely beneficial by allowing for more independence and privacy in voting for those with significant disabilities who may have needed support to vote or indeed have not voted at all before. A vote could be cast using an iPad or other communication device, with appropriate checks made to ensure the authenticity of the user.

Hopefully, the iPad voting pilot in Oregon will be success and will contribute to  other governments efforts to increase the options and ease of voting for people with communication difficulties or significant disabilities.

Beth

Bethan is a full time mama, self-employed copywriter and many other things. Her interests include books, rubbish TV, eating too much and Reading Football Club. Connect with me on Google+

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