According to a story in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, some important new innovations will be rolled out for tomorrow’s special election here in California by Orange County. Here is a snippet from the story this morning:
Those linking off the registrar’s home page Tuesday will find an array of services: a live Web camera trained on the registrar’s delivery warehouse in Santa Ana providing constant image updates; street-level maps showing the locations of polling places with red, yellow and green triangles. Red means that ballots are still at the polling place, yellow means the ballots have left regional collection centers, and green means they have arrived at the registrar’s office and are being counted.
Other improvements include mobile teams roaming the county with backup voting machines. The office will have three printing stations — in Anaheim, Mission Viejo and Santa Ana — with the ability to print paper ballots matched to individual precincts if the polling places run out.
Note that the ballot tracking system appears very similar to the one that I saw in operation in Buenos Aires just a few weeks ago!
Another description of the new technology to be used in this election by Orange County came through recently in the newsletter that Neal Kelley, the Orange County Registrar of Voters, in his periodic email newsletter:
For the first time in a California election office GPS satellite technology will be used to track teams armed with replacement voting equipment. These Rapid Deployment Teams will be pre-positioned throughout the County with inventories of eSlate voting booths and other supplies. Shown at right our new control center is going through final set-up for Election Day. This command center will monitor all activity throughout the County on November 8th including deployment team dispatch, GPS tracking, live web updates and more.
The actual image that this quote refers to is here.
As best as I could determine, there is no link at this point to the web cam yet at Registrar of Voters website. However I can guarantee that I’ll be checking their website tomorrow, as for an election geek like me this is must-watch material from the OC.
All joking aside, the use of web cameras in situations like this is a great idea. I’ve heard election administrators talk about using web cameras to show election administration operations, especially election-night activities like ballot box opening and ballot tabulation. This is an excellent way to provide another layer of openness and public involvement in the “behind the scenes” parts of the election administration process. It’ll be very interesting to see how the OC system works in practice, and to hear more from them (after the election is over) about how effective they think these new practices are, how much they cost, and how difficult they are to implement.