Neighborhood board vote online
Hoping to increase turnout, the city is giving voters in the upcoming neighborhood board elections the option of casting their ballots on the Internet.
The city is partnering with Commercial Data Systems Inc., a local computer consulting firm, to offer the online voting service for the first time this spring. In 2005 only 25 percent of the 198,405 ballots the city mailed out for the biennial board elections were returned.
The city expects to have the voting Web site, www.nbvote.com, ready by Wednesday so registered voters can log on and request a voter number. The city is assuring voters that the system is safe and will not cause errors in results.
For contested seats, 235,000 registered voters will still receive paper ballots and printed candidate profiles. The ballots, which must be postmarked by April 16, also will have a voter number that people can use to vote online beginning March 23.
Paper ballots will not be sent to 170,000 voters who live in areas where there are no contested races. However, those voters will have the option to vote online.
More than half of the neighborhood board seats, or 259, are uncontested, and 62 of them have no candidates, the city said. This year's elections are being held to fill 444 seats on the 32 neighborhood boards, which serve as grass-roots advisory bodies for government.
Election results will be released May 1.
It will cost the city about $305,000 to run the election, up from $289,000 spent in 2005, said Cameron Heen, of the Neighborhood Commission Office. The city hopes the Web site will attract more voters and spark interest in the system, which was criticized as "disjointed" and deficient in a city audit last year.
Heen also said voters who use the site will have the option to answer about 10 questions aimed at helping candidates understand the issues facing their communities.
The neighborhood board system was established by the City Charter in 1972.