AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Spotlight on Elections: Voting, Cloud, and Alexa

With mid-term elections upon us, the world’s spotlight is on our electoral system: How can people vote? Where can they vote? How can we secure the polls? Election officials, candidates, and voters are balancing scale, security, and usability to modernize elections.

The passion that elections ignite on all sides is matched by AWS’s commitment to security, compliance, and high availability, enabling voters to be confident that their voices will be heard. As a reflection of that commitment, AWS was accepted into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council (EISCC) to help make the U.S. election systems as secure as possible.

From voter engagement all the way to the voting booth, AWS continues to deliver infrastructure for elections.

Secure, available, and innovative – pick three

West Virginia is proving out the opportunity for innovation within elections, while staying secure. In 24 counties, West Virginian service members serving overseas are among the first in the country to cast federal election ballots using a smartphone app – a move designed to make voting easier for troops stationed abroad. West Virginia uses the Voatz blockchain voting solution running on AWS. From voter verification to ballot secrecy, Voatz incorporates biometrics, cryptography, and blockchain to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

Using AWS, the North Carolina State Board of Elections also runs elections in a highly scalable and secure manner. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars to modernize and scale their on-premises infrastructure, they run cost effectively without worrying about losing public trust due to failing or crashing elections sites.

“For us, the overarching feature of using AWS is reliability. On election night, I trusted that I wouldn’t have to worry about capacity or load, and could instead focus on delivering results,” said Marc Burris, Chief Information Officer, NC State Board of Elections and Ethics.

AWS partners provide voting technologies for the modern voter

For an optimal voting experience, AWS maintains a network of technology partners. Take a look at how some of our partners are providing tools for the modern voter:

  • KnowInk offers a secure, modern toolset and interface to mirror the devices citizens interact with in their daily lives. In more than 650 jurisdictions across 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, Poll Pad has replaced the traditional model that often causes long lines at the polls and inefficient election recordkeeping.
  • Democracy Live launched its AWS voting platforms, OmniBallot and LiveBallot, to over 400 state and local governments in the U.S. and over 96 countries around the world. OmniBallot helps military, overseas, and disabled voters securely access their ballot. The U.S. Department of Defense chose Democracy Live to deliver their secure online balloting portal. LiveBallot is a social, interactive ballot for political organizations and parties. Democracy Live also collaborated with the Alexa team to launch the first “Alexa Ballot” to speak a ballot’s options and candidates’ messages, and then select and send voters’ choices to phones. Over 20 million voters will now have access to LiveBallot, including the Alexa Ballot. “Democracy Live’s system is a marvelous example of a universal design. It provides a valuable resource of voter education for all citizens, including those with disabilities who often lack access to this critical information about candidates and issues,” said Deborah Cook, University of Washington Center for Technology and Disability Studies.
  • Votem, which recently acquired AWS partner, Everyone Counts, in one of their first joint projects will complete implementation of the Interactive Sample Ballot (ISB) as part of the “Voting Solutions for All People” (VSAP) project in Los Angeles County with Smartmatic, another AWS partner. See here for details.
  • Scytl, a global AWS Partner, has successfully delivered election modernization projects in the U.S. since 2008. Most recently, for the 2016 US Presidential Election, Scytl’s technology provided over 53 million registered voters and thousands of election staff across 28 states with the benefits of more efficient, scalable and accessible election processes, establishing Scytl as one of the leading election modernization providers in the United States. “Since 2012, Colorado has consolidated election reporting of all 64 counties by leveraging Scytl Election Night reporting on election night. Our voters can access a single page to see results for congressional or state races and break down even further to show results at the county level,” said Wayne Williams, Secretary of State, Colorado.

Helping elections administrators and citizens for this November and elections to come

To help elections administrators, political campaigns, and civic organizations remain secure, we offer Security Automation and Orchestration (SAO) templates and free workshops specifically designed for election customers.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) and AWS are working together to protect the security and reliability of elections through security automation, orchestration, and alignment of CIS security controls. We aim to help all organizations involved in elections better understand what to focus on, know how to prioritize and parse the voluminous guidance available on protecting IT-related systems, and engage in additional collaboration to address common threats to this critical aspect of democracy.

Although it is almost time for people to cast their votes this year, elections administrators are in constant pursuit of modernization and innovation and AWS is here to help. Interested in an onsite workshop or in learning more? Contact us at elections@Amazon.com.

Stay informed. Ask Alexa.

As our partner and customer communities leverage AWS technology, Amazon is working to provide helpful and timely information on the voting process through Amazon Alexa. Find out voting deadlines and logistical info in each city and state, such as: who is running, when polls are open, and what’s on your ballot. Alexa will also provide real-time coverage of election updates and post-election outcomes. All you have to do is ask! Try “Alexa, what’s my election update?” for live election coverage.

From building intuitive Alexa Skills to seamlessly securing voting platforms, all across the U.S., elections are running on AWS and our comprehensive partner community.