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August 14, 2006

New Web Site Encourages Maryland Voters to Look and Learn

UMBC Public Policy, Information Technology Experts Team Up With State Board of Elections for Voter Info Site


A new web site at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County uses state-of-the-art technology to help voters in Maryland access information that will help them make decisions about voting in the upcoming 2006 Primary and General Elections. The web site, called the Maryland Voter Information Clearinghouse (mdelections.umbc.edu), is a joint project of the Maryland State Board of Elections and UMBC’s National Center for the Study of Elections (NCSE). SBE asked researchers at UMBC to design new publicly accessible, easily searchable databases for voter information.

“It’s where, who, and how,” said NCSE Director and Professor of Public Policy Donald F. Norris. “The site is actually three separate databases that each give Maryland voters information to help them learn where to vote, who is running for office, and how candidates are financing campaigns.”

“We initiated the Center last summer with the goal of using the academic and research capabilities of UMBC to apply expert analysis, study, and educational techniques to the various programs at the State Board of Elections,” said Linda Lamone, State Administrator of Elections. “This project is a good example of how well that partnership is working. UMBC’s multi-disciplinary approach to this project has lead to a terrific outcome for all Maryland citizens.”

Visitors to the site can look up information on candidates for federal and state offices, and search the state’s campaign finance database, which includes publicly available reports on campaign finance activity for all candidates, political action committees (PACs), and parties. Registered voters, after entering required information, can verify their voter registration information, learn their voting districts, and find their polling places.

"These web-based tools leverage departmental expertise in the areas of database design and implementation, human-centered computing, and accessibility, providing a great opportunity for Information Systems faculty and students to apply what we teach in the classroom to develop important tools for the citizens of Maryland,” said Andrew Sears, Chair and Professor of Information Systems. Dr. Sears is Associate Director of NCSE.

The National Center for the Study of Elections is a center within the UMBC Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis & Research (MIPAR), in partnership with UMBC’s Department of Information Systems, the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and the State Board of Elections. The Center provides technical assistance and research support to the State Board of Elections, and also conducts studies about voting technologies, election administration, and other issues related to voting and elections. For more information, visit www.umbc.edu/mipar/ncse.

Posted by crose at August 14, 2006 4:13 PM