I attended the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) (www.nased.org) summer conference in CLE this week.
The agenda topics ranged from “Perspectives: Unique Next Generation System of Voting Machines” to “Innovative Ideas” and updates from the technology groups that oversee voting machine standards and election procedure best practices.
What struck me the most was the true lack of innovation and imagination in all of the sessions.
For instance, I sat through almost 45 minutes of queuing theory on how to shorten lines at the polls (even though the stats show that there really aren’t significant lines at the polls nationally).
In the “Next Generation System” presentation, the discussion was around voter-centric design of voting machines that looked they were from 1995 along with “innovative” paper ballots…c’mon people – this is 2015!
It’s sort of like talking about really innovative ideas to send faxes better.
In an age of true technological innovation that has truly transformed how the world lives and works, we need to elevate the conversation to true innovation and look 5 – 10 years down the road and get our elections leaders to start thinking about what their voters will truly want in the next few election cycles.
Technology and our expectations of what we expect from businesses and governments is changing so rapidly that if they are not thinking about it now, by the time we demand it, they’ll already be years behind.
Not all was lost at the conference as their were some innovative ideas. In particular, Denver County in Colorado seems to be light years ahead and is already using mobile technology for petitions in their municipal elections. They are very open to what we are doing with mobile voting and time will tell how fast they move.
Despite my feelings about the lack of innovation and creativity, my understanding, respect and gratitude goes out to the Elections Directors because in many ways they have impossible jobs. If the election goes off without a hitch, no one seems to notice or care but if there is the slightest issue, they are the first to get blamed; even if it was an issue caused by a manufacturer, old technology, voter ignorance, etc..
Because of this, I understand their hesitation to “try new things” for fear that THEIR name will show up on the front page of the local paper. That being said, change is hard and not without some professional risk. History tells that those organizations (and people) that embrace change, despite a few bumps and scars, generally end up the winners in the end.
Let’s change the world together and go after the #MostVotesEver using mobile voting.
Signing off from the NASED Conference…