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Kent State Professor Develops a New Way to Vote

Posted Aug. 26, 2013 | Danielle DeBord
enter photo description
Kent State University Associate Professor of Management
and Information Systems Pratim Datta has created a new
Voter Identification and Recommender System (VARS) to
make the voting process more transparent.

Kent State Associate Professor of Management and Information Systems Pratim Datta wants to make voting more transparent as it should be in a democracy. He has created a new Voter Identification and Recommender System (VARS).

Datta envisions VARS as accessible 24/7 from any part of the world on any device. To use his new system, a voter needs a driver’s license or some other form of identification, and must enter their social security number. Once it is verified that the voter is not deceased or a convicted felon, the voter will be asked a series of questions to make sure he/she is not a fraudulent user. Datta says questions will be asked, such as “We find that in the last two years you have changed addresses. What street was your last residence on?”

“VARS will not ask questions that the voter might forget,” Datta says. “Once three to five questions are answered correctly, the security administration will send your last social security zip code and the current ballot will be issued.”

Datta adds that the program also has a setting to provide more information about the candidates, if the voter desires, which can also assist undecided voters. Voters can answer certain questions about political issues, and candidates will be ranked in descending order of recommendation.

“Because of VARS, voters will be able to vote anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to a smart phone or computer,” Datta says.

Datta wants to propose his program to the local county boards.

“I’ll show them the tremendous time and effort that they can save, while creating a more transparent way to vote,” he says.

If a specific number of questions are not answered correctly, the system will file a voter fraud report. The voter will then get a notification stating that he/she needs to physically come in to vote.

Datta says there are no privacy concerns with his VARS program.

“VARS uses the same authentication information and security procedures that are a federal requirement; the system is transparent,” he says.

For individuals who have a problem dealing with an interface rather than paper, Datta says the option to vote in person will remain.

“The prototype should be done in the next month,” he says. “This is my own thing. I just love building things.”

For more information about Kent State’s Department of Management and Information Systems, visit www.kent.edu/business/mis.