Written by Matthew Ern Saturday, 19 October 2013 00:00
It’s been depicted in movies and on TV, but dismissed. The concept seems progressive, but is open for discussion. Would you put your say on an important matter in the hands of your mobile device? One Mineola-based company has seen success on a small scale in the private sector, but is dreaming bigger.
VotRite, a company that specializes in electronic and mobile voting, offers digital alternatives to standard voting machines and has hosted elections for organizations across the country.
The company has been around since January of 2007. It isn’t endorsed by municipalities, but is instead utilized by private organizations such as charities or condo boards to host internal elections.
VotRite has been used locally by Long Island University, Queens Community College, and the Fraternal Order of Police. Its system allows for both mobile voting by visiting their website from a computer, smartphone or tablet as well as voting at a fixed location on one of their touch screen machines. The machines access the website through encrypted cloud servers.
Security is a huge concern for VotRite and company manager Jim Kapsis says they take every effort to protect votes. “We update servers constantly. We maintain software on a daily basis. It’s just a matter of spending the time and money to keep things safe.”
When trying to vote on the website, you’ll first be prompted to enter a pin number for the election you’re trying to access. An ID number is used when voting at a machine as well and ensures that everyone can only vote once.
Once the pin is entered, candidate names appear along with their pictures. Before you finish up there’s a final screen allowing you to review and change your selections before submitting them.
The computers can double check the number of votes cast against a list of registered voters for a given election to make sure no extra ballots have been cast. At the end of an election, the results are printed within 5-7 seconds. And an automated cutoff ensures no votes are cast after the specified end time.
The machines can display ballots in numerous fonts and sizes. The ballots are customizable as well and only take minutes to produce, in any language.
Response to the machines has been largely positive. Elderly users, according to Kapsis, “have reported that the larger fonts make voting easier, and younger generations can intuitively navigate the touch screen interface.”
Voter transparency and security are key for VotRite. “People want transparency, they want to know that their vote counted,” Kapsis explains. He believes it’s only a matter of time before digital voting becomes the standard.
The next step for VotRite, according to Kapsis, is installing their machines in retail chains across the country. “If you can’t get to your polling place and have no Internet access, you could go to one of their machines at a store or pharmacy.”
Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
Eleni Pitzel has lived in East Williston since 1975, having raised five children. Prior to that, she and her family lived in Floral Park. Pitzel is a longtime club member, and served as corresponding secretary for two years.
Pitzel has been the club’s art instructor for four years; she also teaches art at St. Paul’s Orthodox Cathedral in West Hempstead. “My artistic skills are a gift from God, and from that gift I give back to others,” Pitzel said.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
A new proposal by interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan seeks to hike pay for elected officials. Riordan's plan would have board members’ salaries jump by $15,000 to a total of $55,000, an increase of approximately 37.5 percent. Other proposed salaries would be $138,000 for the supervisor, $115,000 for the receiver of taxes and $105,000 for the town clerk.
Riordan introduced the proposal at the last town board meeting, on Nov. 19, requesting that a resolution be placed on the agenda setting Dec. 10 for a public hearing to consider the adoption of an amendment that would enable the salary increases for the 2014 calendar year.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
MAA Travel Soccer teams wrapped up their respective fall 2013 seasons recently. Two MAA teams won titles this season in the Long Island Junior Soccer League; the BU13 Mineola Empire went 9-0-1 and the GU14 Red Bulls enjoyed a 8-1-1 campaign to each win first place trophies. The GU11 Honey Badgers went undefeated (6-0-2) and finished in second place in their division, as did the GU15 Mini-Mustangs with a 7-1-1 season record.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
The Mineola 12U fall intramural baseball team celebrated their fall season and tournament championship with a pizza party/awards dinner on Nov. 20. In addition to celebrating a great fall season and tournament championship, the boys were treated to an inspirational talk by coach Ken Conrade, the 2013 New York State High School Coach of the Year.
Conrade, the Kellenberg Memorial High School assistant principal for academics and girls varsity softball coach, was the keynote speaker for the awards dinner. He presented a very talked about baseball and youth sports.
Conrade’s talk was framed around each inning of a baseball game. He used stories and examples from the first to an extra “10th inning” to drive home both a sports and life lesson. For example, as part of the seventh inning stretch, he had each player stand up, stretch their legs and then go and thank their parents for their support and commitment to their baseball playing.