WITH AMERICA'S 53RD presidential Election Day only a week away, CIO wondered just how significant the IT demand of such a huge data collection and calculating endeavor would be. We anticipated excitement over innovations and sob stories of sleepless nights from IS crews. As it turns out, IT plays little role in helping communities across the country count the more than 100 million votes typically cast each presidential election.

Indeed, most voters still use the lever machines first introduced in 1892, punch card ballots and scan sheets, similar to SAT tests, to do their civic duty. Some 80 tech-reticent communities in "" Massachusetts tally paper votes by hand after the polls close. A few cutting-edge communities elsewhere use touch-screen televisions and scanners to cast votes.

While Californians will punch cards and circle dots with the rest of the United States, they'll also get to participate in a pilot project of the California Internet Voting Task Force. Voters in some communities cast their traditional vote at the polls but then have the chance to cast an unofficial vote via the Internet. California may be the next state to attempt online voting, following the lead of Arizona, which held online voting for the Democratic presidential preference primary in the spring.

Besides alleviating the stress of hand-counting votes, the Internet also has the potential to lure younger voters to e-polls, says Alfie Charles, spokesman for the California secretary of state.

California's progress toward Internet voting will come in baby steps for security's sake. By 2002, the state anticipates that voters will be able to vote online at traditional polling places and possibly malls and business centers, but there's no time frame set for remote Internet voting from home or work yet.

We were just a little ahead of ourselves with that sleepless nights idea.

This story, "AUTOMATION" was originally published by CIO.

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