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SEAGULL Together with Hamer Enterprises Bring Accuracy and Efficiency to the Election Process

November 1, 2002 - The inaccuracies that plagued the 2000 U.S. presidential election caused an awakening in state and local governments-revealing the potential chaos that can arise from the use of antiquated voting equipment and methods, registration errors and voter fraud. Hamer Enterprises, a software application provider to state and local governments, wanted to offer a solution to election officials that would allow them to gain control over their election processes to ensure fairness, accuracy and the timely delivery of election results.

Hamer selected SEAGULL's J WalkT technology, a component of LegaSuiteT, to support their suite of applications, which helps to automate the voting process. J Walk is a legacy extension solution that provides industry-leading developer tools and infrastructure for Web-enabling, GUI-enhancing, workflow-re-engineering and desktop-integrating iSeries applications. J Walk offers a dynamic development and deployment environment that empowers users to deploy iSeries applications to both browsers and Windows desktops in a single work effort.

By building J Walk into their eVOTE solution-a voter tracking and registration system-Hamer allows polling workers to qualify voters electronically at the polling site. "In some cases, poll workers may have little or no computer experience. So, we wanted to provide something easy for them to use that doesn't require computer know-how," said Hamer customer, Dusty Knight, chief deputy of the tax office for Travis County, Texas. With eVOTE, voters in Travis County now simply present either their driver's license or their voter registration (VR) card to election officials. Officials swipe the license or enter the VR number and the data is automatically displayed on a GUI interface and captured in the eVOTE application. Leveraging J Walk's scripting capabilities, eVOTE automatically sends the data to a label printer, which prints a barcode along with the voter's registration information. "J Walk enhanced the entire process tremendously. The J Walk scripting tool enables us to streamline the voter qualification process by eliminating the need to create unnecessary files, print jobs and business processes," said Bill Hamer CEO of Hamer Enterprises.

J Walk has contributed to eVOTE's ability to accelerate the voting process, while reducing data entry errors. Because data is gathered directly from the voter's registration card or license, poll workers are presented with immediate identification and voting status information. Previously, poll workers were forced to input data manually, which was time-intensive and increased the potential for inaccurate keystrokes. "Voting in Texas takes place over a two-week period. When Travis County deployed eVOTE, I personally went up to one of the voting stations on the busiest day. I watched the whole process for four hours at their busiest location, and I was just amazed at the speed that people were moving through. They used to have lines of 30 to 40 people at a time. It went down to four or five because we could process them so quickly, " commented Hamer. "What's really important to note is that by using the scripting capabilities of J Walk, we have been able to dramatically improve the qualification process for voters which we believe will have a positive effect on overall voter turnout."

Aside from reducing errors and saving time, eVOTE serves as a line of defense against fraudulent voting attempts. When the data is swiped, it goes into a central iSeries system that stores all the voter registration information for 25 locations in Travis County. "We have instantaneous updates, so we know who votes and where they voted. So if a person leaves one location and tries to vote again at another polling site, we know that they've already voted," said Hamer.

In Monroe County, New York, J Walk allowed eVOTE to provide real-time election night reporting. At the end of the night when all 700 polling locations closed, election officials logged on to eVOTE's Election Night Reporting system to submit their results. The data was entered into J Walk, which then created a file that was accessed by a Web application through IBM's WebSphere. The final tallies were then automatically posted to a Website. This permitted voters to see real-time results as the polling locations closed. "This had never been done before. Other providers claim that they do this also, but they're really keying in the data and transforming it into HTML. With J Walk we only needed to enter the data once and the Website was updated automatically. It's just an awesome procedure," commented Hamer.

In addition, eCAM, Hamer's computer assisted mass appraisal solution for property assessors, is using J Walk to invoke 3rd party products. After an appraiser takes a picture of a property, they can store the picture on a server. Each picture is assigned an index number that J Walk can call, allowing the assessor to view the picture.

"Previously, assessors had to open multiple applications to view the pictures. Now they can view them directly through the J Walk interface. And we have integration with a GIS system, as well. If you're on a particular parcel of land and you want to find out where it's located on a map, you just click a button and J Walk goes off and finds out where that application is, calls it up and displays that map. It saves a lot of time," commented Hamer.

Hamer and their customers have experienced substantial advantages from SEAGULL's J Walk technology. "The improvements to our voting system have dramatically reduced the amount of errors due to decreasing the 'human element.' We've increased accuracy by eliminating misspellings of names and the inability to read someone's handwriting," said Gail Fisher, elections division manager for the Travis County Clerk. By helping election officials streamline the voting process, Hamer has helped state and local governments save time and money and reduce the frustration of the voters and poll workers. "All the voters I talked to that were exiting the polls, told me that they're amazed at how easy it was to get in, vote and get out quickly. This wouldn't have been possible without SEAGULL. They've been very good. Nothing but high marks for SEAGULL as a company," said Hamer.

In business for 27 years, Hamer Enterprises provides hardware, software and services throughout the United States. Their predominant successes are providing dynamic and high utility application software tools in the public sector areas of restitution, supervision, property and collection management.

SEAGULL Software - Hamer Enterprises Case Study


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