October 29, 2009 By Chad Vander Veen
Electronic voting has a bad rap it can't seem to shake. Across the country e-voting machines are regarded skeptically at best. Many citizen activists and some elections officials have re-embraced paper as the best and most accurate way to vote.
In May 2009, the city and county of Honolulu tried a different approach for electing members of its Neighborhood Boards. Instead of e-voting machines, residents voted either online or by phone. No paper ballots were available. The all-digital election -- which may be the first of its type in the United States -- didn't come about because the government sought to advance technology. The move was driven by a more pedestrian reason: budget cuts.
Although participation was low, city officials said eliminating paper ballots slashed typical election costs by half.
In Oahu, 33 Neighborhood Boards form the Neighborhood Commission. Those elected to the commission serve their constituents by advising other government entities about what is going on in Oahu's neighborhoods.
Bryan Mick, community relations specialist for the Neighborhood Commission Office, said the agency had to come up with a more efficient way to hold its elections.
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