October 05, 2004

Voting Information Kiosks

Cass County election officials want to make it more convenient for people to vote in a fast-paced, high-tech world. On Friday, county officials placed a computerized voter information kiosk in a busy corridor of Fargo's West Acres mall.

IN THE NEWS:
Voting info while you shop

Reprinted from In-Forum News

Cass County election officials want to make it more convenient for people to vote in a fast-paced, high-tech world.

On Friday, county officials placed a computerized voter information kiosk in a busy corridor of Fargo's West Acres mall.

"We're trying to provide as many options as possible," Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said. "It would be great if everybody could come vote on election day, but it's a 24-7 world now."

The information kiosk uses the mall's wireless Internet to connect to a server at the county courthouse, Montplaisir said.

The kiosk was paid for with money the county received for selling used voting equipment to South Dakota, he said.

With a few clicks of a keyboard, shoppers can find detailed maps of their Cass County precinct, voting information and sample ballots for the Nov. 2 election. They also can use it to find results after the election.

Voter education is one of the components of the federal Help America Vote Act, which was passed in response to problems uncovered in the 2000 election.

Work on voter education is ongoing statewide, but this is the first time a county in the state has put in such an information kiosk, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said.

"They have the technology to do it, and they took the initiative," he said.

The kiosk will be updated with more information as the election approaches, Montplaisir said.

"If it works good with this election, maybe we can expand that in the future."

Montplaisir, who is president of the North Dakota Association of Counties, said election officials want a similar network across the state.

"One of our goals statewide is to have it so that everybody could go to a Web site and find out where they vote," he said.

Another way Cass County is trying to make it easier on voters is by taking advantage of a law passed by the 2003 Legislature allowing counties to set up an early voting system so residents can vote just as they would on Nov. 2.

From Oct. 19 to Nov. 1, Cass County residents can vote at the courthouse in Fargo, 211 9th St. S., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Traditional absentee ballots became available on Friday. About 1,000 people already have filled out applications, Montplaisir said.

About 59,000 Cass County residents voted in the 2000 presidential election, and 48,000 voted in the 2002 election, Montplaisir said.

He expects up to 70,000 will cast a ballot this year.

"There's a lot of interest in this election from both sides of the aisle."

Posted by Craig at October 5, 2004 05:09 PM