KENT, Ohio – A local college professor hopes to dramatically change the way everyone in the United States votes.
Dr. Pratim Datta of Kent State University has developed a new program he calls VARS, for Voter Identification and Recommender System.
Using the program, voters can cast ballots in their local elections from anywhere in the world using personal computers or smart phones.
Datta believes VARS will not only eliminate concerns about voter fraud, but it will also address many of the concerns that voter rights activists have regarding disenfranchised voting.
Using the program, a voter will first either swipe their identification card or sign in using their name. The program will first double check the name against the one on their personal I.D.
Next the voter will enter their social security number which can be electronically cross referenced with their name.
The program can then easily tell if the person trying to vote is a convicted felon or if they are using the identity of someone who is deceased.
Using the social security number, VARS can then access databases like credit reports, giving the person trying to vote a list of three to five questions only they can answer from their personal records.
“Generic questions such as did you receive, this particular year, did you receive a (tax) refund? Or where have you lived? Or where did you buy your car, not where did you buy but if you bought a car who did you finance it through? These are major decisions in life,” said Datta.
He explained that the questions will not be so complex as to rattle off a long chain of numbers or codes that might be easily forgotten.
If a specific number of the questions are not answered appropriately, the program can instantly file a voter fraud report and discontinue the process.
After passing through the security measures, VARS can then pull up a local ballot allowing the user to vote.
Datta says he has also woven an option into the program that helps people become more informed voters.
The option can take a voters preference regarding issues such as abortion, gay marriage, gun control, etc. and show how closely their priorities align with those of each candidate.
A voter can still select any candidate they choose, but they will be able to see how that candidate or issue compares with their own personal values.
Datta says the program is secure.
“There is always this issue of, ‘so I’m providing my social security number, I’m answering all of these things about my identity verification. Am I going to be prone to identity theft?’ and my answer always has been no. It’s going to be maintained in multiple different databases in different places,” said Datta.
The Kent professor says the most modern of voting methods used now simply dress up the same old system, leaving it open to questions about identity fraud and virtually eliminating the need for paper absentee ballots.
He calls VARS completely transparent.
Local boards of election would still be able to have voting precincts where people can come to cast their ballot if they do not have access to computers.
He hopes to convince local county boards of election in Ohio to use the program initially then take it across the country.