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AutoMARK Gets A Patent For The "Ballot Marking Device" PDF  | Print |  Email
By Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley   
July 30, 2006

This article appeared on Not Quite A Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


a person with disabilities using a head wand to interact with an AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal One of the true innovations in computer-mediated voting in recent years is the development of the ballot marking device. A number of vendors have developed devices that essentially act like large expensive pens. These devices allow people with disabilities to interact privately and independently with a touchscreen, ADA-compliant voting interface to mark a normal optical scan ballot while people without disabilities can fill out the same optical scan ballot by hand.


Vogue Election Systems, Inc. and AutoMARK Technical Systems, LLC are the most successful ballot marking device developers with their AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal (above, at right). It was only natural, I suppose, that they seek to patent their innovation. Eugene M. Cummings of AutoMARK Technical Systems, LLC was awarded patent no. 7,080,779 for a ballot marking device on 25 July 2006 (filed 11 Dec. 2003). Here is the patent's page on the USPTO's site. Here are the patent images turned into a 5.1MB PDF.


This will make it much more difficult for other vendors to develop their own similar ballot marking device and could pose problems for non-profit groups (like the Open Voting Consortium) which might be developing ballot-marking devices or devices based on similar architectures. I hope AutoMARK TS, Inc., is open to licensing their technology, and hopefully at reduced royalties for non-profit groups. Seeing as how they've signed exclusive marketing and manufacturing agreements with Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and how competitive the voting systems market is, I'm not holding my breath.

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