Microsoft's Surface a balloting device in one precinct in Virginia

The tablet is being used by a Washington-based company named Democracy Live that delivers electronic ballots to certain states.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Microsoft's Surface tablet is now a voting machine in Virginia.

Democracy Live, a company based in Washington, works with several states to offer electronic ballots through its software, LiveBallot. According to GeekWire, which spoke with Democracy Live CEO Bryan Finney, a single Surface tablet is being used in a precinct in Charlottesville, Va., allowing voters to mark their ballots from the device.

Microsoft launched its Surface tablet late last month. The Surface is the first tablet from Microsoft, and runs Windows RT, a version of the company's operating system that supports ARM-based chips.

With LiveBallot running on the Surface, users are able to vote for their desired candidates. Voters then print out the ballot from the Surface to allow another machine to count it. LiveBallot is a cloud-based application running on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform.

Tablets have long been viewed as possibly useful voting machines. Last year, Apple donated five iPads to Oregon to help election workers in five counties make it easier for voters with disabilities to place their ballots. That was believed by some to be the first step toward a broader rollout of tablets across voting precincts.

However, with any device that can connect to the Web comes security concerns. And security is a huge concern in an important election. That's precisely why e-balloting hasn't taken off to the degree certain companies would like. It's also why the future of voting on a Surface or iPad is decidedly in doubt.

Making the vote count: Voting machines then and now (pictures)

See all photos