The TrustTheVote Project, as regular followers are aware, is developing a holistic election administration technology ecosystem. It might seem like a "boil the ocean" proposition, but it turns out not to be if one thinks about this election technology innovation challenge like an operating system. And thus, we have the Open Source Election Technology Framework. The entire Framework is based on a data standards layer, and up from that we have two principal tracks of technology:  that which is for the administration of elections and  that which is for the process of voting (i.e., transacting ballots).
An important subsystem of the election administration portion of the Framework is the Electorate system -- the portion of the Framework concerned with voter registration administration and related interfaces to the processes of voting. In particular, there is a very important component of that called the Voter Services Portal, you can glance at a very high-level view of it here.
The Voter Services Portal: Open for Innovation
The Voter Services Portal ("VSP") has been in development for 3-years, and was adopted by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2013 and is in production here. This platform is already enabling all kinds of innovation, including the concept of an on-boarding pass such as this. The idea on this one point of innovation is that citizens ought to have a means very similar to TSA-Precheck at airports to fast-track their way into the polling place. And that's just one innovation the VSP makes possible. With the TrustTheVote Project's VSP, innovation advances are unconstrained by commercial mandates, thus concepts like this are more possible with low risk of adoption for the developer of such capability, and low cost of deployment by the jurisdiction.
A Cost Effective Jump-start for States Considering OVR Services
Here is the key message about the Voter Services Portal which is available right now from the TrustTheVote Project: there is a substantial amount (i.e., more than $300K) worth of freely available open source software to rapidly accelerate a jurisdictions' development and deployment of online voter registration services. In fact, current assessments underway by potential adopters suggest that the Voter Services Portal code base may save between $300,000 to as much as (in one edge case) $1 million of taxpayer dollars in avoiding custom software development.
Adoption is as simple as either:
- Specifying this code base in an RFP for the deployment work to be done;
- Simply getting the code and performing any necessary or desired adaptation work in house (its merely subject to a very government procurement-friendly open source license), or
- Asking the OSET Foundation for advice, help, and/or resources to get this implemented in a matter of weeks (rather than the months or more we're witnessing in other projects where the State or jurisdiction insists on forging ahead on its own.)
Doing this is requires 3 simple steps:
- ADOPT: Make the decision to not "re-invent the wheel" and leverage an existing base of source code that has been tried, tested, trued, and is in production;
- ADAPT: Our software is not a "one size fits all" solution; it is incredibly flexible, malleable, and adaptable -- that is a commercial opportunity for some, and yet for those with internal IT resources it's a straight-forward simple exercise to tune and tweak it to a jurisdiction's regulatory and user experience requirements; and
- DEPLOY: The code stack and deployment is a web service. With a robust API, there is NO modification required or necessary to your back-end legacy voter registration databases and systems (of course, we have a rockin voter registration database solution too, when you're ready ;-)
We could go on about the awesome innovations the Voter Services Portal will bring about, from polling place pre-check, to BusyBooth for polling place traffic monitoring, to breakthrough digital poll book technology, to helpful services for voters like Ballot.ly, but in time those capabilities will speak for themselves.
For now, if you know of a jurisdiction considering online voter services including online registration, please: you must tell them about the TrustTheVote Project and the Voter Services Portal... its already done and freely available, and it needs to stop being such a well-kept secret.