Whip it! House Dems using iPad technology to count votes

by Dan Kricke

Kris Connor/Getty ImagesHouse Democrats have begun using iPads – not for games, but for tallying votes.

I couldn’t tell you when it happened exactly, but I recall the excitement I first felt when my teacher, in whatever grade I was in at the time, finally let the students use a calculator on a math test.

For someone who admired the stoic importance and pride of numbers but preferred to keep a respectful distance, this was very important news. “You mean I don’t have to count up things incorrectly in my head like a sucker?” This was a revolution, really.

I imagine House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer feels some of that same joy today, as according to The Huffington Post, Hoyer and the rest of the big Ds will be using iPads to tally up vote totals that were previously kept on paper.

Now, that’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s not as if the Whip was taking on one of the business practices of the old Grayson Moorhead SNL skit, and only keeping a single hand-written copy of the vote totals in some secret cabinet somewhere.

Instead, the votes were written on pieces of paper and then entered into a database at a later point. Not the worst idea, but waiting for vote totals to roll-in slowly and losing slips of paper seems much more 12th Congress behavior than 112th.

So now Rep. Hoyer will receive the voting results on his iPad as they come. He gets a shiny new toy and we’ll get a theoretically more efficient Congress. But it sure says something that I’ve been getting real-time baseball scores on my iPhone for years, texted just seconds after the events unfold, and we’re just now getting some tech in the hands of government officials who might actually be able to do something useful with it. No offense to me, but real-time baseball scores rank just above instructions found on the back of a frozen pizza if we’re ranking essential items.

And Rep. Hoyer should brush up on his Spider-Man because with great power comes great responsibility. The last time there was a technology kerfuffle on Capital Hill it was because Democrats and Republicans alike turned the State of the Union into a Friar’s Club Roast with their Twitter accounts.

So don’t ruin it for the rest of us, Hoyer. Don’t be the kid plugging complex quadratic equations into your calculator so that I can’t use mine to skip-out on quick mental math. Do not play Angry Birds or check your Facebook while you are counting votes. It’s fine if you make a move in Words With Friends though. I’m sure Rep. Jared Polis is getting impatient.