May 19, 2010 By Russell Nichols
With November elections on the horizon, Santa Clara County made a strategic move last Friday, May 14, when its Registrar of Voters became the first in the nation to accept electronic signatures for voter registrations.
The decision came after Verafirma, a Silicon Valley technology company, pitched the idea to use the county as a test bed for its e-signature system. Using the National Voter Registration Act form on the company's website, the software captures a "secure electronic signature" that the registrant writes on an iPad, iPhone or another mobile touchscreen device. Created to eradicate issues with the pen-and-clipboard method of years past, advocates said this historic and innovative approach could forever change the process of voter registration.
"Being in Silicon Valley, we're proud of our efforts to promote electronic voter registration," said Elaine Larson, assistant registrar of voters for Santa Clara County, "and make it available to everybody to register to vote in a safe and secure manner."
So far, five people have used the free service and signed voter registration forms electronically at a table set up at San Jose State University. Three of the five were re-registration forms with information that was "really clear and better than what we have on file," Larson said.
Santa Clara County's effort represents the latest wave in a broader movement to modernize voter registration systems across the country. By using the Internet and new technology, state and local governments hope to reduce voter registration costs and mistakes created from processing paper files.
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