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States Allow Voting Via Cloud For Citizens Overseas

Florida, Virginia, and California are using LiveBallot, based on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform, for U.S. 2012 primary elections.
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Several states are using an online balloting website based on Microsoft's cloud-computing platform to allow U.S. voters living overseas to cast their votes via the Web in 2012 primary elections.

LiveBallot, based on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud infrastructure, has already allowed more than 1,200 voters from Florida living in 40 countries around the world to access their ballots for a Jan. 31 election, according to Microsoft.

Democracy Live, a provider of e-ballot technologies, developed the system, the back end of which is running in Microsoft data centers. The website Florida developed to give voters access to the system--Our Mission: Your Vote!--also was built by Democracy Live and is being hosted by Microsoft.

[ Can the cloud choose the next president? See Web 2.0 Expo: Can Cloud Level Field In 2012 Election? ]

In addition to Florida, Virginia and California will use the system for their primaries, and Washington state will use it for its caucus. However, only in Virginia will all voting jurisdictions be covered by the system; the other states only will provide access to certain voting areas, according to Microsoft.

The system allows voters registered to vote in primaries who live overseas to have access to ballots 45 days before the election. From that time until the election, they can cast their ballot electronically, or print out the ballot and mail it or fax it, depending on the state's election rules.

The online ballot system helps solve previous problems with absentee ballots, which include voters not receiving their ballots in time to vote or ballots arriving late back in the United States and not in time to be counted for elections.

"These elections are a huge step forward for voters living or serving our country overseas," said Bryan Finney, president of Democracy Live, in a press statement. "By cutting the ballot's transit time in half, LiveBallot ensures that voters are able to access, vote and return their ballot in time for it to be counted."

To ensure the ballots are from legitimate voters, people use unique identifying information to access their ballots online, according to Microsoft. Once received, the signature on the ballot is matched with registration records to further verify identity.

Overseas voters are eligible for Virginia's primary, which made ballots available last Friday for its election March 6. California will release ballots to overseas voters on April 13 for its June primary election.

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