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In the future, voting will take place using he updated Penn InTouch. Technological advances are making it easier and easier for Penn students to rock the vote. Online voting began last spring on the Web site of the Nominations and Elections Committee. But this semester, voting will be available on a platform that everyone knows well -- Penn InTouch. The program, created by the NEC and the Information Systems and Computing office, will be uploaded today, along with Advisor-In-Touch, a component designed to make students' academic records more accessible to them. The NEC predicts that, with the new system, more students will vote in Penn elections this spring than in previous years. "By making it easier to vote, students will exercise [their vote] in student politics" said NEC Vice Chairwoman of Elections Teresa Lee, a Wharton and Engineering junior. "Students [can] really care about who gets elected." When students log on to Penn InTouch, they will see a link to elections on the sidebar. This link will take them straight to the appropriate ballots for their class year and school. Elections this spring will overlap with fall pre-registration, Lee said, so more students than usual may vote because they will visit Penn InTouch to register for classes. The idea for Penn InTouch voting was originally devised by College senior and NEC Chairwoman Christine Naselaris last summer after she found problems with the elections through the NEC's Web site. After the proposal received approval last fall, Lee headed up the project, working closely with members of ISC. According to NEC members, the previous online system on the dolphin-server Web site had numerous problems, making it difficult for students to vote online. Students with advanced standing due to Advanced Placement credits or a heavy course load could not receive an online ballot. Also, students were required to log in using their PennNet ID and password, which many students could not easily recall. According to Lee, both of these problems have been solved with the new platform. Penn InTouch will determine students' class standings by their expected graduation date, not by the number of credits they have, allowing all students to have access to an online ballot. "Students know the system -- it's really accessible," Lee said. Unfortunately, she added, the problem of dual-degree candidates who are registered in more than one school has not yet been solved. As with the previous system, these students will receive a ballot only for their primary school. ISC Technical Director Jim Choate said the make-up of the elections component has purposely been generically designed so that other student organizations can use the program to hold votes in the future. "I would hope that it would increase participation," Choate added. According to Choate, the elections component of Penn InTouch will be uploaded today, but will not be accessible until elections begin on March 29. He added that there were no immediate security concerns over the new elections system. The NEC will hold its annual "Get Out the Vote" campaign during elections week, encouraging students to vote using the new online system.

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