Voting via TV using Wink system

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Wink Communications has developed a system that will allow voters to cast their public election ballots over TV sets.
The company, along with cable operator Charter Communications, wants to test the system in San Luis Obispo, Calif., a small community on the Central Coast of the state, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Alameda, Calif.-based Wink is best known for its interactive TV process that gives viewers either enhanced program or commercial information.
The Wink voting system works through cable systems, and subscribers must have a digital set-top box. Voters would request an absentee ballot ID number from their local voting board. A subscriber would enter that number, along with a PIN number the voter selects for himself, to access the ballot on the TV screen.
Dennis Mangers, a former California legislator and currently senior VP of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association, told Electronic Media that he was impressed with a demonstration of Wink’s system he saw last week at the Western Cable Show in Anaheim, Calif.
“Of course the No. 1 concern is security,” Mr. Mangers said. Wink said its voting process is secure primarily because cable is a closed system, unlike the Internet. Furthermore, Wink said security personnel could be stationed at cable headends to ensure no one tampers with the system.
Asked if he had concerns that Wink’s system would only be available to cable subscribers, Mr. Mangers said, “Wink tells me voters could go to TV sets installed with cable at schools or libraries, so I don’t see that as a problem.”
Many communities in California, including San Luis Obispo, use a punch-card method of voting similar to the one used in Florida during the last presidential election. Voting on TV would eliminate “hanging chads” and other such problems, Wink said.
The California Legislature must certify the Wink voting-on-TV process before it can be tested in the state.