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Honolulu's Internet Vote Worked: The Wave of the Future?

The nation's first all-digital election was deemed a success by Honolulu's city officials over the weekend. According to the Associated Press: "Some 115,000 voters in Honolulu's ...

by / May 24, 2009

The nation's first all-digital election was deemed a success by Honolulu's city officials over the weekend. According to the Associated Press:

"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."

Despite reports that describe the cost savings, ease of use and benefits to overseas and military voters, the same online election process cannot currently be used for city council or state elections in Hawaii because there is no paper record of votes.

The technology infrastructure and web voting process for the election was provided by Everyone Counts, a company that has managed online elections worldwide. The Everyone Counts website had this to say about the Honolulu Internet vote:

"The City and County of Honolulu are currently holding the United States' first all-digital election conducted entirely online and via telephone. Using Everyone Counts' trusted and secure voting solution, the City and County of Honolulu aims to decrease costs and increase voter participation in its 2009 Neighborhood Board Election through Everyone Counts' commitment to universal access. By offering an all-digital voting system, Everyone Counts provides previously disenfranchised voters, such as military and overseas voters, and voters with disabilities, access to a convenient, secure and reliably counted ballot. The voting period for the Neighborhood Board Election opened May 6 and will extend through May 22."       

News video coverage of the vote was also available at KGMB9's website. The video contrasts the new process with more expensive vote by mail methods. The results are expected on Tuesday, May 24.

So is this the wave of the future? There are excellent arguments on both sides of this electronic voting debate. With an exploding amount of identity theft in America, it's hard to see this approach being used for the November 2010 elections across the USA. Nevertheless, this could be a first major step towards online voting.

In my opinion, the goal of increased participation by using the Internet, along with the potential for reduced costs, will drive governments to take a hard look at adopting new technology to make e-Voting a reality over the next few years. What's missing is the new infrastructure to ensure verified identities for all citizens online and the state government infrastructure to eliminate e-voting fraud. More on this in future blogs.

So what are your thoughts? Are we heading for electronic hanging chads? Is this a positive development in your opinion? More important, what new technology infrastructure is your government exploring in this area?    


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Dan Lohrmann Chief Security Officer & Chief Strategist at Security Mentor Inc.

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.

During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.

He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.

He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.

Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.

He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso

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