Pueblo voters may soon have the ability to follow the progress of their mail-in ballots. Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz is proposing the adoption of the i3ballot system, which would send voters up-to-date information about where their ballots are, both geographically and in terms of the count process.
The Pueblo County Commissioners have just approved a contract with i3logix, the Denver-based company behind the system. Implementation of the system is expected as soon as the 2014 general election.
The U.S. Postal Service’s barcode tracking system, Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB), will be used to update the growing number of Puebloans who choose to vote by mail.
“In 2012, we had about a 62 percent turnout (of mail-in voters),” Ortiz said.
He expects that number to grow to 90 percent in the 2014 election.
The software requires voters to sign up for updates that would be sent via text, email or phone calls. In addition, the Clerk and Recorder website will have a portal that will allow voters to enter their information for a more manual approach to tracking.
The system will fall under the umbrella of the Pueblo Clerk and Recorder’s “Pueblo Votes” marketing effort, which aims to get Puebloans more involved in the voting process.
Rebecca Packard, project manager of Pueblo Votes, expects a wide range of i3ballot users in terms of age. “It’s good for that tech-savvy generation,” she said.
Packard and Ortiz expressed a belief that younger voters would even be willing to vote online, if given the option.
“Older voters are a little more wary. They feel a lot more secure (with the system),” Packard said. “Even if you just have a home phone on the wall,” older voters can use the system.
Initial reaction from the community included concern about the security of the system. In the past, fraudulent calls have gone out to prevent Puebloans from casting their votes on time.
A falsified automated call was sent to residents during the 2012 election claiming that voting stations would be still be open a day after they actually closed.
Because of the i3ballot system, the Clerk and Recorder’s office can send out its own message from an unchanging four-digit number. “No one can fake it,” Packard said.
The Clerk and Recorder’s office will have complete control over the messages sent to voters and can tailor them to individuals or regions throughout Pueblo.
If a problem occurs in one area of Pueblo but not another, Packard said messages can be sent to voters in a specific zip code.
The same idea applies to potential problems with individual ballots. Alternatively, if the Clerk and Recorder’s office does not know where a missing ballot is, the i3ballot system will.
Instead of having to rely on Clerk and Recorder’s office to find a ballot, “we can just refer them to the system. They could be doing it on their own,” Ortiz said.
i3logix, the software company behind the i3ballot system, started in Denver. It offers a variety of technological solutions for an array of industries and focuses mainly on healthcare. The company has developed software for administrators of clinical trials that organizes data electronically, in addition to a number of other pieces of software.
Pueblo Votes plans to update users at a variety of stops in the ballot collection process. Alerts will be sent once the ballot hits the Postal Service, when it leaves a voter’s mailbox, when the vote has been received and once it has been counted. Additional alerts will be sent a few days before the election to serve as a reminder to vote.
The Denver Elections Division uses the software as well and markets it as the Tracking, Reporting and Communication Engine. Its system also uses the Postal Service’s barcode technology to update Denver voters, from immediately after their ballots are printed to when they are counted.
“It’s kind of an advantage that it’s been used in Colorado,” said Ortiz.
“It’s gone through all the growing pains,” Packard added.
Pueblo Votes decided to adopt the system for security purposes and to get citizens more involved politically.
“We want to be a more positive side,” Packard said. For her, the new system is a chance to improve the image of politics in Pueblo. The system will be transparent.
Ortiz believes that potential success of the effort will “get the attention of politicos in Denver.”
Voters will soon be able to sign up for the tracking system at www.pueblovotes.com.