Franklin County can vote on technology's edge

Franklin County voters should take advantage of a pilot program for online voting. They should also provide feedback to the Auditor's Office about their experience to smooth the way for future elections.

But let's back up for a minute.

"Online voting" is not really an accurate description of this project. In the state of Washington, we are not allowed to vote online -- yet.

With this project voters can mark an online ballot, but they still have to print it out and mail it in.

So why bother?

Because the electronic ballot won't let you mismark it (no hanging chads, no indecipherable smudges); because the online voters' guide includes video statements from the candidates and other fancy stuff; and because the more people who participate in the project and complete the survey, the easier it is to ride what looks like the wave of the future.

The project is funded by a $50,000 grant tied to making voting more accessible for people who are visually impaired. If you have the right software, your computer will actually read your ballot and the voters' guide to you.

Other advantages for this kind of voting is military and absentee ballots. And if it was in widespread use it would save a ton of money on printing materials. The Franklin County voter's pamphlet is 186 pages this year.

Only 67 people gave the program a test run in the primary elections. Auditor Zona Lenhart is hoping for more participation in the general.

So how do you do it? Well, inside your regular ballot you will get a piece of paper with a code on it that identifies which precinct you live in. It doesn't identify you or your computer.

You log on to www.franklinvote.com and enter your ballot code. You mark your ballot -- watching the videos if you like -- hit the print key and let your printer spit out your ballot.

From there it's just like traditional mail-in voting. Put the ballot in the privacy envelope, sign the back of the purple envelope and drop it in the mail or a drop box.

And no, you can't vote more than once.

If you live in Franklin County, give it a try. You will be setting precedent. And be sure to fill out the voter survey to help refine the process.