Politico reports that disabled residents in five Oregon counties will be able to vote with the iPad today as part of a pilot program, after state officials decided an Android tablet, a Windows tablet, the Lenovo Thinkpad, and a "regular laptop" were not as easy or effective to use. Voters still aren't technically casting their vote with the iPad — the tablet is used to make selections and then print the ballot — but it's certainly a step toward using cheaper consumer-oriented devices for elections in a space dominated by electronic solutions from Diebold and ES&S.
As AP originally reported, election workers will carry the iPads and portable printers around the state, locating groups of voters who have trouble filling out traditional ballots. Voters can adjust the font size and screen colors, have the iPad read the candidate's names or the voter pamphlet, or even use extra peripherals like a "sip-and-puff" device to control the tablet. Voters can also connect their own accessibility tools like joysticks and paddles to the system via Bluetooth. "It's a lot simpler for me. I think it's a great setup they got," 75-year-old Lewis Crews told AP.
AP says Apple donated five iPads to Oregon for the program, and the state then spent $75,000 to create special voting software — Oregon would need to buy 72 iPads to roll the program out statewide, which might be a bargain compared to the $325,000 the state spent in the past two years for voter accessibility. If it's successful, Apple might have a whole new market to invade.
Photo credit: AP Photo / Rick Bowmer