From national defense to transportation methods, and even drug prescriptions, automation has changed our lives. Automation is part of our present and our future.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

So, at this point in time, instead of asking ourselves why automate an election? A more appropriate question should be, why not?

Basically, the same reasons that apply to automate any process, equally apply when it comes to an election. Let´s take the example of a recent breakthrough in the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2010, following a trend repeating across all industries, the University of California at San Francisco spent 14 million building the most technologically advanced hospital pharmacy in the country. One year later, and in the light of its unquestionable success, it was updating its service to make it available online.

Orders come electronically from the doctors, and the automated process follows until received by the nurse by the patients’ bed. As described in an article by Ariel Schwartz “In a standard pharmacy prescription process, a doctor writes the prescription, the hospital clerk scans the prescription to the pharmacist, the pharmacist puts the prescription into the computer, a technician fills the order, the pharmacist checks for the correct medication, and a nurse gives the medications to the patient.” With this device, the process is automated, leaving time for pharmacists “energy to working with doctors to find the best drug therapies for patients, and to monitoring patients for adverse reactions”.

By 2011, this robot had filled 350,000 prescriptions without making a single mistake.  That is 100% accuracy. Humans would have made 3,500 errors making that same amount of prescriptions. That number positively impacts the health of thousands of people. And also improves safety of employees.

UCSF’s automated pharmacy won the 2011 Best of what’s new award from Popular Science. The awards recognize 100 innovations that indicate where technology is headed in the future.

Summarizing, with this robot we have:

  • Reduced steps to process and deliver a medicine – Efficiency
  • Minimized risks associated with human error –Accuracy
  • Lowered dependency on human labor – Cost efficiency
  • No humans performing risky tasks (manipulating hazardous materials -chemicals) – Security
  • Pharmacist out of mechanical aspects of and use their intellect to be sure that the patience at the bedside is getting the right medicine and proper treatment. –Efficiency

These benefits -efficiency, accuracy, security, financial- are not exclusive attributes of this robot. As we mentioned before, they are common to the automation of any process.  Elections are no different.

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Why automate an election? Why not?
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