AU finds partner to provide voting system worldwide

Published: Jun 19, 2008 1:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Amy Weaver, aweaver@oanow.com, 334-737-2534

Source: Opelika/Auburn News

Thursday marks the union of a voting system created at Auburn University and Everyone Counts, a San Diego-based company that runs online elections.

The first challenge for the partners is winning over a task force in Montgomery today, headed by Secretary of State Beth Chapman. The task force was created to study ways Alabama can make military and overseas voting more convenient and timely.

AU Associate Professor Dr. Juan Gilbert and a number of computer science and software engineering students have spent the last few years developing and testing new technology that allows everyone to vote, regardless of ability.

By collaborating with Everyone Counts, the pair can provide a voting system for everyone, regardless of ability or location.

Team members are optimistic the combination makes them ideal to get the recommendation for the military and overseas contract. Plus, Chapman has been a longtime supporter of Auburn's Prime III technology.

"This is what we've always talked about," Gilbert said. "We're integrated and it's going to be used in the real world."

The Auburn-Everyone Counts team is one of three companies invited to Montgomery Thursday.

Lori Steele, chief executive officer at Everyone Counts Inc., said the company has been doing Internet voting for a decade but knew that something was missing. They could provide access overseas but not to anyone locally or abroad who was disabled.

Auburn was also missing something. The team has always known it was responsible for developing the technology and testing it, but someone else would need to thrust it into practical application.

Auburn and Everyone Counts met in Oregon last July at the first ever University Voting System Competition. AU's Prime III didn't win the grand prize, but Gilbert said the relationship with Everyone Counts is worth so much more.

"This is getting our technology out there," he said. "It's what we've been working for."

Senior Travis Warlick said he was convinced Prime III needed to be used in the real world after running tests at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

"We had a few people there tell us they never voted before because they didn't think they could," he said. "That says it all."

The task force is expected to make a recommendation about a voting system to the state legislature in February.