Is e-voting ready for prime time?

September 27, 2004


Whether you vote for Kerry or Bush, Obama or Keyes, one thing is certain. You won't vote over the Internet in Illinois in this election.

"There was a view three or four years ago that Internet voting was around the corner," says Cook County Clerk David Orr. "That's no longer the case because of two issues, security and equity. You can't put in an election system unless there is equal access."

While Internet voting will be absent from the ballot come November, electronic voting is still an issue. It will be debated Friday when Richard Balough, a private attorney and associate director of the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law at John Marshall Law School, hosts a bevy of electronic voting experts for a public symposium titled, "E-lection 2004: Is E-voting Ready for Prime Time?"

When these experts talk about electronic voting, they're not merely describing on-line voting. They're concerned about all the ways voters interface with computers at the polls. This includes electronic touch-pad-based voting booths where the data is collected on a computer but not connected to the Internet.

Among those addressing our readiness to vote with electronic support will be Doug Chapin, director of; James Scanlon, an attorney with the Chicago Board of Elections; Richard Barnett, an elections activist, and Orr. Linda Crane, associate dean at John Marshall will moderate.

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who chairs the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, will also be on hand. She sorted out Florida's latest voting snafu where electronic voting records were lost and later recovered.

"Illinois is not in the forefront of electronic voting," Balough says. "In Cook County, we will still be using punch cards."

While that might not sound satisfying given Florida's experience with hanging chads and disqualified ballots, Balough is reassuring.

He notes that procedures were added in recent primaries to protect voters. After voting, a citizen's punch card is inserted into another machine that alerts the voter of over-voting (voted for two or more candidates for one office) or of under-voting (didn't cast a ballot for an office). Voters have the choice to vote their ballot as punched, or get a new punch card. The old one is destroyed, and voters can cast a new one.

"We are very much in the forefront of protections for electronic voting," Orr says. "Illinois was the first big state to pass a law that requires a verifiable paper trail for electronic voting,"

Cost: $275, including two meals. For more information:

TiE mentors entrepreneurs

How do we create more Chicago-based entrepreneurs?

"Mentorship is an essential aspect of entrepreneurship," answers Adarsh Arora, CEO of Lisle Technology Partners. "You have to give a little bit back."

That's why Arora and other successful entrepreneurs formed TiE Midwest, a local chapter of TiE Global, the Silicon Valley networking organization founded by entrepreneurs in the 1990's.

"It was originally a South Asian group," says Anjali Gurnani, executive director of TiE Midwest. The name TiE stands for The Indus Entrepreneurs, referring to the Indus River, though today's membership has a much broader reach.

Tomorrow night, TiE Midwest hosts two local entrepreneurs who are redefining the financial services industry. Tom Sosnoff, CEO of thinkorswim, and David Kalt, co-founder of options-Xpress, will coach aspiring entrepreneurs when TiE gathers at the offices of Gardner, Carton & Douglas.

The prospective entrepreneurs will learn how Sosnoff's company received $22.5 million in funding from Technology Crossover Ventures last August. Kalt will explain how his company was named the top online securities brokerage by Barron's in 2004.

Passing along the tricks of the trade is what TiE is all about.

Bits & Bytes

Chicago Public Schools CIO Bob Runcie had some advice at last week's City Club presentation: "What matters most with technology is what you do with it." The Harvard- and Kellogg-trained Runcie is committed to applying technology to support educational aims. Runcie received three standing ovations.

U.S. Cellular CEO Jack Rooney joins Loyola University's board. ... Kudos to Raymond Spencer, CEO, and Jean Cholka, head of global client services, at Rosemont-based Kanbay on being named to Software magazine's Software 500 list.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.


 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners