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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Panel Discussion: “Election Reform: A Systematic Business Solution”

The first thing you know you have to do in each location is assess what is the issue there.  David said that they did the sample of 100 different locations for this.  I’m sure that not every one looked exactly the same, that they were all different.  So you have to assess what the local situation is.

Then you have to develop a plan for that in order to address it.  Don’t just leap to one.  Start at the beginning.  What are the things that we need to be able to do? Revise the processes if necessary, before you do the technology.  See what can be done differently in order to help those customers.

Then, after you’ve done this, you want to look in securing the enabling technologies.  What are the ones that are going to work?  Is the fact that the punch cards didn’t work, is it because it was purely an education level, and if you improve the education and the process then the systems will actually work,  or the system’s fundamentally wrong.  Even if you change the processes, if you don’t have the degree of confidence that you need, then you need to have a different system.  And what is the appropriate system for the people in that individual location?  Are punch systems, lever systems, sensitive touch systems the appropriate one?  What are the people in that location going to be able to use and what can you afford?

Finally, people need to be looking at continuous improvement and evaluation, which requires you to be able to measure performance.  So we need to be able to look at the end of each election process how we did by individual location.  How people did in that individual location.  Based on that review be willing to revise the process we’ve got.  Not accept the process we’ve got.  Constantly be looking for improvement so that the next election process is better for the customers in that area.

MR. GERENCSER:  Thank you, Jack.
An Ed, if you can wrap.

ED RODRIGUEZ, Senior Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton: As Mark noted, I’m principally a technologist.  And as such you might expect that I come here and kind of argue the merits of the quick insertion of technology.

In fact, I’ll join the chorus here and cite that this is just one of the three major dimensions that you have to consider.  Technology, when you do find the right spot, needs to be introduced in a concerted and thoughtful manner.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean in terms of the debate here that there aren’t some important and explicit topics associated with technology.  And I’d like to address a few of those.

First of all, if you take a look at the landscape of standardization, there is a lot of activity going on out there.  There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the revision of standards that were produced back in 1990 by the FEC to address computer-based voting systems. There’s a lot of commentary out there, many participants throughout industry, academia.  Vendors have commented on them.  And what we’re going to find is that the landscape of how these systems get evaluated will change tremendously.  You’re going to see an emphasis, I believe, in terms of stronger testing, introducing the user into the equation.  Interestingly, to date there are no usability standards associated with the equipment that’s out there now.  So when we hear about issues on chads and people not having a positive, effective experience, it’s really no surprise, since the equipment wasn’t evaluated against that.

The FEC, however, isn't the only organization that’s out there taking a look at standards.  There is Oasis, and even the IEEE are now looking at developing standards.

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