EasyVote’s Software Promises Smoother Running Elections
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upgrades to voting technology and election procedures, but left municipalities and states to decide for themselves how to make those changes.
Much of the billions in federal HAVA funds went toward replacing outdated voting machines, a pain point for sure, but Ron Davis says they’re only part of a larger problem of inefficient elections processes. As an example he cites Georgia’s early voting law, which led to long lines at the polls. The law requires voters to fill out a paper application and present valid identification before being issued a ballot. But sometimes election staffers couldn’t read the writing on the applications. The voting line was held up as staffers worked through the application.
EasyVote streamlines the process. Voters scan their ID, and the system autofills an application that can be printed out and signed. Furthermore, the software compares the scanned ID with a state’s voter registration database to verify the person as an eligible voter, and also checks that the voter is in the right precinct. This voter processing software is the only EasyVote offering that a voter interacts with in any way. EasyVote’s other software “modules” were developed to address other sticking points for elections offices: managing voting machine inventory, coordinating poll workers, managing tasks in preparation for an election, and allowing candidates to digitally file campaign finance reports. Each of these five modules works on mobile devices.
Despite the presidential commission’s call for new elections software, that body acknowledges that security concerns have slowed adoption of new technologies. That said, EasyVote is not the only company targeting this developing market. TurboVote, which launched in 2010 as a voting reminder app, has since developed tools for election officials. In Madison, WI, a group of tech entrepreneurs formed a free service called Vote (Mostly) Online, which doesn’t actually enable to people to vote online, but does allow voters to verify their voting eligibility, request an absentee ballot, and review candidate information—all online. San Diego startup Everyone Counts has developed a software-as-a-service platform for secure digital online voting.
Possibly the most comprehensive of the new crop of election software companies might be Scytl, a Barcelona, Spain-based company founded in 2001 that has developed or acquired an array of election management and voting software tools now used in 35 countries, including the United States. In October, Scytl acquired Canada-based Akira Systems, whose software manages elections workers. The Akira deal, Scytl’s sixth acquisition in the last two years, came two months after closing a $104 million financing round that included $40 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s investment firm Vulcan Capital.
EasyVote has self funded its operations so far. As it expands beyond the Southeast, Charles Davis says EasyVote is now seeking $1.5 million from investors to finance the growth. He expects to secure funding by the end of 2014.
While 2015 will be an off year for elections, Ron Davis expects it will be a big year for EasyVote expansion. Many election offices will be weighing technology upgrades in preparation for the 2016 presidential election season, he explains. The company is already speaking with election officials in Texas, Utah, California, and Oregon, among other states, about the software.
Ron Davis acknowledges that EasyVote’s offerings have some overlap with those of Scytl and others, but he says EasyVote’s modules allows jurisdictions to buy what they want and scale up or down to fit their budget— the modules are available separately or as a complete package. The software is also available as a subscription, which he says makes it affordable for small counties and towns; EasyVote’s existing customers range in size from towns with just 2,000 voters to communities in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Pricing depends on how many voters are served but a small county can expect to pay $2,500 annually to subscribe to one module; purchasing all of the modules together could cost up to $200,000. Flexibility, Ron Davis says, is key to serving the smallest markets that might view a large vendor’s software as beyond their means.