26 May 2010

Microsoft Teams With Democracy Live to Assist Military Voters Secure Easier Access to Ballot

/PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. and Issaquah-based Democracy Live recently announced a partnership that aims to make voting more accessible for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are living and serving overseas during elections and want their vote to count. The Democracy Live system has already been selected by numerous elections jurisdictions for use in the coming August primary election.

By delivering virtual ballots to voters around the world, Democracy Live and Microsoft have eliminated a long standing problem for voters stationed in the military and overseas. Using the Democracy Live technology called "LiveBallot" a voter living anywhere in the world can access their ballot immediately online. Historically voters have had to wait as long as 2-3 weeks for their ballot to arrive. The delay often meant military men and women overseas would have not have their ballot counted. LiveBallot is hosted and supported by Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

A new federal law was recently passed (called the MOVE ACT) that aims to make voting more accessible for voters living and serving abroad during federal, state and local elections. LiveBallot is offered to states and localities to immediately comply with the new federal law.

"In the past, voting has been difficult for troops and other Americans living or serving overseas," said Bryan Finney, president, Democracy Live. "We are pleased to be teaming with Microsoft and using the Windows Azure platform to deliver the most vital tool to our democracy - the ballot. By using Microsoft Azure, LiveBallot allows states to provide U.S. voters with a convenient, safe and secure way to participate in elections from anywhere in the world."

LiveBallot allows voters to print and mail their ballot and track their ballot online to monitor when it is received and processed by their county elections office. This technology gives overseas voters the assurance their ballot is correctly processed, no matter where in the world they vote.

"Running on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform, LiveBallot will help state and local governments reduce the costs associated with sample ballots, voter pamphlets and other paper-based voter information," said Gail Thomas-Flyn, vice president, state and local government at Microsoft. "By utilizing a cloud-based platform Democracy Live can scale up for elections and down once results are determined, which will only further reduce strain on limited election resources."

Multiple counties in Washington State have already used LiveBallot in numerous elections. Kitsap County, Wash., was one of the first jurisdictions to field the solution and has now used the LiveBallot technology in multiple elections.

Retired Navy Chief and Kitsap County resident Dearl Hankins stated, "When I was stationed overseas in the military, during election time it always felt like I had to fight two battles: One battle was against the enemy and one just to be able to vote. A system like LiveBallot makes voting a lot easier for us to concentrate on the mission and not have to worry if our ballot was counted."

"LiveBallot is designed to deliver each of the 200 million eligible voters in the U.S. their specific ballot and balloting information," Bryan Finney said. "The Microsoft Azure cloud provides the scalability and security required to meet the coming demand for any voter, anywhere from Dubai or the dentist chair, to access their ballot from any online screen or device."

Finney went on to say that LiveBallot is not Internet voting, but simply delivering voter information, including a voter's specific ballot. Voters still must print and mail their ballot back in, Finney stated. "Voters are beginning to use LiveBallot to access and print their ballot. This system will save taxpayers significant dollars by eliminating or reducing the number of mail ballots and paper voter pamphlets."

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