Innovative voting system is one of brilliant winners

10 August 2009

UCT IS Brilliance Team Brilliant: UCT students Richard Sadie, Theresa Janse van Rensberg, Morty Selelo, Wilson Kopman and Kgolane Thobejane

Five UCT students couldn't wish for a better holiday than spending a week of their vacation doing an internship at software solutions giants Business Systems Group (BSG), thanks to their innovative ideas.

The information systems final-year students - Theresa Janse van Rensberg, Wilson Kopman, Richard Sadie, Morty Selelo and Kgolane Thobejane - were named winners of the BSG Brilliance Competition for 2009, along with Derek Sanhokwe of Rhodes University. They won an all-expenses-paid internship at the company's Sandton branch.

The winners came up with solutions to problems faced by the Independent Electoral Commission in the April general elections.

Selelo's 250-word idea was to have a web-based system comprising inter-linked computerised voting stations distributed throughout South Africa.

Voting cards would be issued beforehand, and each would be bar-coded into the system. These would hold the personal details of the voter, their address, gender and their fingerprints, for security.

"This sort of system would allow anyone to vote at any place as long as they have their voting card, since their details can be retrieved from the online system," he explained.

At the voting stations, several easy-to-use multilingual touch-screen terminals would be available, allowing the voter to scan their voting card and ensure that their identity is verified by pressing a thumb against the screen to match the fingerprint on the card.

Only after verification can the user proceed to the next screen, where they can cast their vote.

Animations are very important for guiding both illiterate and literate users.

Following the voting, a confirmation receipt is printed as proof of voting, and the terminal resets to the default screen, ready for the next voter.

Selelo proposed that several easy-to-use terminals at each voting station would facilitate a speedy voting process. All votes would be counted automatically, and results could be verified and released on the same day.

Selelo said the internship was enriching.

"I got to see what I can apply to the workplace from my studies."

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