New iPad voting technology a possibility in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE - Voting machines could be a thing of the past in Louisiana since Secretary of State Tom Schedler is looking to install tablet voting at precincts across the state.
Schedler says he wants to phase out voting booths to make things smoother and cheaper in the long run. The transition would involve leasing about 30,000 tablets over time and would be pricey at first. The initial cost is about $50 million and would need to be allocated by the legislature.
Schedler says some of the machines voters use now are about 20 years old and in a few years will be on their way out since they are not made anymore.
"It's unavailable quite frankly," he said. "There's no vendor that makes this anymore so if you've got to replace a part, you're usually getting it from the manufacturer, something taken from an older machine."
The transition would change how and where a person votes. With the Geaux Vote application available on smart phones or tablets, voters could fill out ballots ahead of time and transfer that information at the precincts with a bar code. Schedler also has plans to establish voting centers, allowing registered voters to vote in places other than precincts. Voters would be able to vote anywhere in the state.
Schedler says this tablet voting would happen within a closed system in a precinct and not be online, helping to eliminate the threat of compromising information.
Technology expert and co-founder of Freebird Interactive Chris Hynes says avoiding the Internet is key.
"Avoiding that and still sticking with the fact that someone still needs to show up at a voting place and then use the tablet, it eliminates the potential problems," said Hynes.
Schedler qualified for reelection Wednesday. He's running against Democrat Chris Tyson, a law professor at LSU.
If reelected, Schedler says voters could see tablets at precincts in the next two to three years.