In an attempt to make voting easier for the elderly and disabled, Oregon is letting citizens in five counties cast their votes on Apple iPads.
Election workers in the counties that make up that state's 1st Congressional District are hitting parks, nursing homes and community centers to find voters who have trouble filling out traditional mail-in paper ballots, reports the Associated Press. The district is holding a special election to replace the seat left open by ex-Rep. David Wu, who left Congress in July after allegations emerged that he had had a sexual encounter with a young woman. Oregon is the first state to try voting via iPad, according to the report.
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Oregon, which was also the first state to allow voting by mail, is embracing the iPad as a way to make it easier for voters with physical impairments to participate in elections. Voters can touch the iPad's screen to pick a candidate. Then the choice is printed and mailed or dropped in an official ballot box. The iPad also lets voters adjust the screen if they're having trouble reading the ballot. Voters whose movements are severely limited can also attach a "sip-and-puff" device to cast their vote.
Apple donated five iPads to the effort. State Elections Director Steve Trout estimates that Oregon would need 72 iPads to run the program statewide.
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Since iPad-voting was introduced in early 2010, advocates for the disabled were quick to see its potential uses. People with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease, among other maladies, have used the iPad to help communicate and ameliorate those conditions' effects.
Meanwhile, states and municipalities have accepted new voting technology in varying degrees. Proponents of electronic voting machines say they advance an area of public life that is out of step with the digital transformation happening elsewhere. However, critics say the machines are vulnerable to tampering. Microsoft recently highlighted one such scheme called a "Trash Attack" in which election workers can collect discarded receipts and then alter the results since voters couldn't prove that tampering took place. Microsoft's proposed solution is to use cryptography to scramble the receipts' contents.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Veronica Belmont
This story originally published on Mashable here.