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There’s an app for registering voters

In New Mexico. It needs to go nationwide.

Jason Libersky is a deputy voter agent in New Mexico. He spends much of his time at community events throughout Albuquerque registering people to vote using an iPad application he created — the Evotee.

While sitting in a Central New Mexico Community College classroom he explains how the Evotee app works. 

“I’ve always had a passion for politics, but not necessarily participating in it as much as I should. And when I realized what those hurdles were to my participation is when I started thinking of things like a voter registration app,” Libersky said.

The Evotee app is used on an iPad. It’s an electronic voter registration form that compiles essential data, like date of birth and Social Security Number. It also attaches copies of supporting documents like a picture of an ID. And the form can be signed on the tablet.

With a click of a button the information is electronically sent directly to the voter registration office. For Libersky this new mobile application means more people, in more remote communities, have a chance of registering to vote.

“Society is now moving at the speed of information and government’s not,” Libersky said. “And, so, I was looking for ways to improve the process and facilitate communication between citizens, politicians and government.”

That’s what caught the attention of the clerk’s office in Bernalillo County, where Libersky lives. Like most counties, Bernalillo has a voter registration form that must be completed, signed and mailed. So, when county officials learned about Evotee earlier this year, they decided to test it.

“It’s been real exciting and nice to see these applications coming in,” said County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. She said the app has become the preferred way for registering future voters.

“Anything that we as election officials can be doing to encourage, simplify, and break down the barriers to the election process is and should be our priority.”

Isn’t that a refreshing attitude? Voter registration is at its heart filling out a form and then submitting it, with the back end being a database. Which is to say that it’s pretty much identical in structure to the vast majority of other apps out there. It’s exactly the sort of thing that apps are supposed to be for. You can easily include whatever proof of identity you might want or need – a scan of a driver’s license or other acceptable ID, a photo of the registrant – iPads have cameras in them – or whatever else. Hell, you could probably do fingerprint and retinal scans if you really wanted to – just about anything short of a urine sample would be doable. There’s no valid technical argument against this idea. Just politics.

“While like it sounds like a wonderful idea for democracy in getting more people involved, we’re currently seeing, you know, a lot of push-back,” said Matt Barreto of the political research firm Latino Decisions. He’s talking about laws like the one in Arizona, and in other states like Texas, that make it more difficult to register voters. 

“I think they’re gonna be very reluctant to allow this technology to come in and say hey here’s a process that makes it very easy to register to vote,” he said. Those states could reject Evotee, with a concern the app would be susceptible to ID fraud.

No more than they would be when used in commerce, as these devices increasingly are. Again, you can equip these things with a magnetic stripe reader to swipe a drivers license or other ID card, and you can take a picture of the registrant and include it with the form. Of course, as things stand now this would almost certainly be illegal in Texas, though perhaps the current litigation will help clarify things. Even with a favorable outcome for the plaintiffs in that suit, don’t expect to see this in Texas any time soon. Link via NewsTaco.

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  1. […] many other things, filling out a voter registration form is something that could easily be done on a smartphone if only the law would allow it. Well, these bills could be that law. I can’t think of any […]