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D.C. Uses Online Voting System Sparingly, Needs More IT Support

The District of Columbia had four-times the previous record of absentee voter requests for the June 2 primary election, an increase which caused IT infrastructure to fail and some ballots to be processed online.

Now with the general election less than five months away, the district is looking to hire additional IT staff in anticipation of a higher workload, a review from the D.C. Board of Elections shows.

“The IT infrastructure supporting the absentee ballot request processes periodically failed,” the review said. “The IT systems supporting the processes were overwhelmed,” said the review, which noted the board filled over 92,000 absentee requests.

On June 1, the day before the primary election, the board discovered “many voters who had timely requested their ballots had not received them.” To these voters, the board offered the use of OmniBallot Online, a method that involves allowing voters to access, mark, print, and return a ballot image electronically.

The board intended to use the system only for voters with disabilities, but “expanded its use to assist voters who did not receive ballots despite timely submitting valid requests.”

A total of 754 residents voted using the online system,  said a D.C. Board of Elections spokesperson, in an email to MeriTalk.

“The Board is currently considering how to use OmniBallot in the future,” the review said, “but it will only be used in limited circumstances.”

Dwight Weingarten
About Dwight Weingarten
Dwight Weingarten is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.