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AS/400 Company Disconnects the Election Process

By Cheryl Ross - News Editor (NEWS/400 - AS400 Network)

AUGUST 17, 2000 - Pundits may speak about U.S. presidential candidates Al Gore and G.W. Bush needing to connect with voters, but perhaps what's really needed at the polls this November is a little disconnect.

Software company Easy Access hopes to use wireless technology to manage voter information at the polls during this year's presidential election. The Texas-based company, which has been in the voter registration business for the past five years handling state and local elections in Texas and New York, has used Seagull Software's Jwalk to give a Windows and Internet front end to its "e" line of green-screen, AS/400 software.

But election time has always involved a cumbersome, paper-intensive process for managing who's voted and who hasn't. Typically, Easy Access's county and state government clients open the polls 30 days before the general election. Many send out squadrons of vans containing portable election equipment to churches, grocery stores, and other locations where voters can drop by and cast their ballots.

During the day, the people staffing these vans keep paper records of who's voted, then after the polls close for the day, they enter that information into Easy Access's Voter Registration Management system and print out updated records to use the following day. But in addition to the manual labor this process involves, it also introduces a situation where voters, either through intentional fraud or absentmindedness, can vote more than once, since the people manning any one of these mobile election booths have no idea who's voted at any of the others during the day.

Easy Access's new wireless application, created by hooking Seagull's Wireless-to-Host application to the Easy Access back end, lets the pollsters use a Palm Pilot, PocketPC, or other handheld device to check who's already voted and update those records in real time. The solution not only improves the efficiency of the voter registration process, says Brett Roeder, Seagull director of wireless product marketing, but it also cuts out the unnecessary costs of reams of paper.

Easy Access hopes to test its wireless system in a large Texas county of about 400 voter precincts during this November's general election. Easy Access President and CEO Bill Hamer also hopes to inaugurate a new Internet-enabled program that would let large counties tally and report their election results in 90 minutes or so, rather than the five or more hours it often takes. But because of the sensitive nature of the application, he wants to make sure he has time for lots of testing before November.

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