Quest for Electoral Innovation Leads to Online Voting for Emmys

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software and conduct security tests and audits, and enables the company to offer election services to government jurisdictions through a virtual private network or over the Internet. “We’re hardware agnostic,” Steele said recently by phone. “We can use off-the-shelf hardware, including the Dell tablet, Android devices, or the iPad.”

The company provides its voting services in a variety of ways: The eLect Platform is a secure ballot delivery and voting system; eLect Universal allows voters to independently cast secure ballots through an Internet connection; eLect Access enables by telephone; eLect Today provides email and fax-enabled voting that conforms to relevant laws. The company’s eLect Results collects, tabulates, and reports on various votes cast and its eLect Services provides consulting options.

She notes the SaaS business model also doesn’t require state and county election officials to make huge, upfront capital expenditures. Everyone Counts provides its services to customers through an annual license at a cost that depends on such variables as the number of registered voters, number of different ballot styles, and the complexities of relevant election laws.

The company’s go-to-market strategy was to provide electronic voting services for Americans living abroad and troops based overseas, whom Steele-Contorer describes as the most disenfranchised voters. “Before 2010, studies showed that 70 percent of the people overseas who tried to vote using absentee ballots did not get their votes counted,” she said.

Lori Steele-Contorer

Lori Steele-Contorer

In 2008, Steele-Contorer said Everyone Counts conducted the first online global presidential primary, and increased participation seven-fold. In 2009, the company provided its first all-digital government election in the U.S. for the City of Honolulu, reducing its election costs by 50 percent. Since then, Everyone Counts has successfully administered electronic elections in Colorado, Washington, Utah, and other states, as well as the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Steele-Contorer funded much of the company’s early operations herself. Over the past two years, Everyone Counts has raised at least $15.3 million, including $7.3 million last November, according to a regulatory filing.

In 2013, Everyone Counts provided Internet voting services for the first time for the Oscars, enabling some 6,500 members of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to cast their votes for “Argo,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and other winners of the 85th Academy Awards. Before awarding the business to Everyone Counts, Steele-Contorer said four technology and security companies—and PricewaterhouseCoopers—audited the company’s voting technology.

This year, for the first time, members of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences were able to vote online for the awards that will be announced Monday evening during NBC’s televised broadcast of the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

“They got their highest voter participation ever—about 18,000,” Steele-Contorer said. The three-hour broadcast, hosted by Seth Myers, begins on NBC at 5 pm (8 pm ET) from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Results of the voting in the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced during the show.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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