GARDEN GROVE, CA: AccuPoll, an upstart manufacturer of electronic-voting machines, is launching a major public outreach initiative designed to dethrone Diebold, the controversy-plagued provider of nearly all electronic voting machines used in the recent US election.
Antarra Communications will help lead the charge as AccuPoll's new AOR.
One criticism often leveled against Diebold's machines is their inability to produce a paper trail, leaving no physical evidence of voter intent. But AccuPoll machines produce a printout of every vote they record - a difference it is eagerly exploiting through media outreach and special events designed to place the company top-of-mind with secretaries of state by 2006.
"Diebold has deep pockets. AccuPoll can't go head-to-head with them [on marketing spending]," said Antarra president Carol Warren. "We're trying to be a source of education about how the paper audit trail provides long-term benefits and not just selling our wares."
The federal government and a number of states have certified AccuPoll's technology, which is a process that can take years. While it has not been used in any US elections, the technology did work successfully in a regional Italian contest this year.
AccuPoll's media outreach efforts have already netted the company a story in Computerworld, as well as participation in election night coverage on NBC and MSNBC. The company is also dispersing white papers detailing its technology and the importance of paper trails.
Electronic machines were a large part of the election debate, and many groups expressed concern about the lack of physical evidence. Such websites as www.wheresthepaper.org, www.whatreallyhappened.com, and verifiedvoting.org have been created to address the issue. Various editorial writers, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune to The New York Times, have cited a need for machines that provide results on paper.
Warren says that many states and counties wouldn't consider new voting machines until after the presidential election.
While the company will continue media outreach, Warren said that it plans to devote a lot of time on straight-to-public demonstrations in town halls and in front of election boards and secretaries of state.
"That's where you see the true value, when you hold your vote in your hand," Warren said.