February 18, 2015

iPads Used to Gather Petition Signatures

THE DENVER ELECTIONS Division is doing something California couldn't get implemented. That's using technology - specifically iPads - to modernize the petition signature gathering process.

The election office in Denver has come up with what's believed to be a first-in-the-nation way to gather signatures that is fast, efficient and better serves constituents as well as the election workers who have to verify thousands of signatures.

Beginning with the qualifying process for elections scheduled for this May, the office is test piloting a program that allows candidates to use a tablet and stylus to gather ballot petition signatures. eSign, as the office is calling the new application, allows circulators to gather signatures on a tablet that is registered with the Elections Division.

The app allows circulators to verify the voter registration of the signer before collecting the signature and keeps a running tally of the number of signatures collected. Tablets can be borrowed from the Elections Division for a $375 deposit or campaigns may register personal iPads with the Elections Division and download the app to gather signatures.

Currently about 18 campaigns are using eSign for the May election cycle and as the deadline for qualification approaches, more campaigns may sign up.

The office worked with a local vendor - 303 Software - to create the app, which cost about $60,000 to create and implement.

The hope is that following their successful pilot, eSign can be adopted not only statewide, but also for other jurisdictions throughout the country.

I'm not trying to brag here but San Mateo County had this idea way back in 2010. We wrote:

"A new Silicon Valley company launched a smart phone app yesterday...that will allow signature gatherers to collect your signature on a cell phone app!" "California may become the first state in the nation to apply this kind of technology to the collection of signatures for initiatives, referendums and recalls headed for the ballot."

Well, that never happened because California law evidently doesn't allow for electronic signatures for petitions. But, just in case your curious, here is a video of how the Verafirma app worked.

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