I’ve been attending the annual conference of IACREOT, in beautiful downtown Spokane. I’ve worked with many local election officials before, but I’ve only gone to a few of the election official conferences over the years, so this has been a treat.
One of the most interesting pieces of buzz around the edges is the perilous position of the election equipment vendors. The downturn in the economy is certainly a big part of the problem, but the unintended consequences of HAVA seem to be a big driver, too. The certification process has not only driven up the cost of equipment, but also seems to have made it very difficult to innovate. (I’ve previously noted this problem, related to the strategic decision to not innovate in touch screens.) I heard the representative from one national vendor tell a bunch of local officials that they shouldn’t expect anything new for the next 7-10 years.
The upgrade of voting machines spawned by HAVA has really improved the voting experience, but much remains to be done. It would be a shame if there were fewer improvements because the regulatory environment that is emerging is encouraging conservatism.