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E-voting for Bar elections becomes a reality.

Imagine this. You come in from a day's skiing in early March in Colorado, flip on your laptop computer and vote in your local Bar Board of Governors race.

Or after a hectic professional schedule in early 2001, you suddenly realize that it's March 21, and your Board of Governors vote must be received by the Bar's election company in Garden City, N.Y. by midnight. But that's no problem. You merely turn on your computer, and with a few clicks of the mouse, cast your vote in plenty of time.

Those scenarios are now reality as The Florida Bar has hired the company to conduct its first Internet balloting for the March elections. That means in the March balloting for seven Bar Board of Governors races and the six Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors contests, Bar members will have a choice of voting online or using a traditional paper ballot. company officials made a presentation on the new balloting system to the Board of Governors at its December 15 meeting. Company CEO Joe Mohen noted Florida will be following the state bars in Georgia and Louisiana in using Internet voting.

Basically, said Steve Walker, representative from the company, the system will work like this: Bar members in circuits with contested races will get ballots in the mail that include a ballot control number, similar to a PIN number.

The members can log on the website and then go to the page for the Bar election to cast their ballot. To do that, they must log on using their unique ballot control number and their Bar number, Walker said.

Members uncomfortable with electronic voting can return the paper ballot. The ballot control numbers on the returned paper ballots will be compared to ensure there is no double voting, Walker said.

Besides the ballot, the website will link to online information about the candidates. Bar members can visit the site at

Mohen said electronic voting has boosted turnout in many elections where it has been used. Aside from state bars, the company has run elections for several companies, nonprofit organizations and last March's Democratic primary in Arizona, where 35,768 of the 85,790 votes were cast electronically. (Most of the rest were mailed in.)

The company is also working with the European Union on some of its upcoming elections next year and has set up online systems for voters to request absentee ballots. Worldwide, has more than 500 clients, ranging from companies to nonprofit organizations to governments. That includes the Labour Party, the Sierra Club, the Communications Workers Union, the Arizona Democratic Party and the Alliance for Continuing Education.

The company uses customized software and the identification numbers known only to each voter to protect against fraud and double voting.

Security and accuracy can actually both be improved from traditional forms of voting, according to the company, and costs can be less than traditional balloting.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Jan 15, 2001
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