Newspaper editorial and opinion pages have been filled with recommendations for candidates and campaign-related issues as the nation gears up for the next presidential election. In the midst of this coverage, The Washington Post ran a compelling editorial contending that “America’s voting machines are in need of a serious upgrade.” Microsoft strongly agrees—and our Microsoft CityNext team is working to help state and local governments make every vote count through modern elections technology.
The Washington Post editorial pointed out the shocking fact that “in next year’s presidential election, some voting machines in 43 states will be at least a decade old and dangerously close to the end of their expected lifespan.” Voting machines are only one part of an often antiquated overall election process—and Microsoft has two cost-effective and secure solutions:
- Our intelligent and trusted Microsoft Cloud for Government, to handle election functions like MOVE (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment) Act balloting, online voter guides and election night reporting.
- Modern, off-the-shelf, high-performance Windows tablets, to reinvent productivity and election processes by:
- Replacing expensive, proprietary and outdated voting machines to improve the voter experience and streamline election operations.
- Reinventing paper and electronic poll books to speed the voter check-in process.
- Developing real-time election management systems that ensure elections run smoothly and return the world’s fastest polling results.
Microsoft and our partners are using our secure cloud platform to help state and local governments realize election improvements:
- Our partner Democracy Live is migrating over 100 state and county balloting portals to our Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform. Their flagship product, LiveBallot Online, uses the secure Microsoft cloud to deliver ballots to overseas U.S. voters—including military personnel—so that they can access customized blank ballots and submit their ballot in a timely fashion for vote tabulation.
- Another Microsoft partner, PCC Technology Group, also has selected the Microsoft Azure Government platform to provide state governments with a secure, reliable system to ensure the integrity of the voter registration and election results process.
- One partner Scytl built their voter registration system on Microsoft Dynamics CRM while another, BPro, is using Microsoft Azure, to build a new state-of-the-art voter registration system to reduce the cost and complexity of maintaining accurate voter records.
- In the lead-up to the presidential election, Microsoft Azure is playing a key role in the 2016 Iowa caucuses. A new, mobile-enabled system built on Microsoft Azure will be used by Iowa precincts to accurately, efficiently, securely and reliably report their voting results on caucus night next year.
Our Windows devices are contributing to secure, transparent, auditable and reliable voting, and election-day support as well:
- After months of testing numerous devices, the New York City Board of Elections selected 3,000 Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 tablets to enable communications among its polling station team.
- In Orange County, Fla., the Office of the Supervisor of Elections gave voters an easier sign-in experience by replacing its aging laptops with Windows tablets. This move has cut average voter sign-in time by 70 percent, greatly simplified the job of poll workers, and increased the speed and accuracy of election reporting.
- Democracy Live selected Windows 10 tablets as the platform for its LiveBallot Tablet. This ballot marking device has been tested and approved by a federal-approved lab for balloting, and deployed in multiple states throughout the U.S.
- Votec, ES&S and others are using Windows tablets to improve the poll book and voter check-in process.
We’re also using our commitment and expertise to move the election modernization discussion forward:
- Our recently announced HealthAttestation configuration service provider is an example of the work we’re doing to secure our devices for use in elections and other areas. This service enables election IT managers to constantly assess the health of managed devices, take policy actions to ensure reliability and, for auditing purposes, confirm that devices have not been altered.
- Josh Benaloh, a senior cryptographer with Microsoft Research and recognized elections security expert, played a key role in the recent U.S. Vote Foundation report on “The Future of Voting.” The report explores whether End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting (E2E-VIV) systems are a viable and responsible alternative to traditional election systems.
- We sponsored a Governing.com white paper on “Modernizing the Election Process: A Watershed Moment in Government.” The paper reinforces the Presidential Commission on Election Administration’s recommendation to reform the standards and certifications process for new voting technology “to encourage innovation and facilitate adoption of widely available, off-the-shelf technologies.”
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more—including voters and those responsible for elections. We are confident that embracing the cloud and modern devices will enable state and local governments to achieve more by transforming the American election process and voter experience.