Last year, a bipartisan commission established by President Obama declared that the U.S. faces an “impending crisis in voting technology.” After the 2000 Florida recount showed the world that the American presidency could be determined by hanging chads, Congress set aside $3.3 billion, most of it to help local election officials upgrade their voting machinery. Bureaucrats with relatively little experience buying advanced technology rushed to purchase machines developed to satisfy the sudden demand. Those devices, designed in the years when Palm and Nokia owned the smartphone market, are mostly outdated. There’s no new money on the horizon, and even if local governments had the budgets for upgrades, they wouldn’t want the standard products currently available. Now, Los Angeles County, the largest voting jurisdiction in the U.S., has hired IDEO, a design company with roots in Silicon Valley, to overhaul how it serves up democracy. IDEO has developed a touchscreen system that incorporates features familiar to voters used to scrolling and tapping. Election administrators across the country are closely watching the experiment. They want to know if L.A. can solve the problem of American voting. “For a long time people muttered that somebody should do something about this,” says Doug Chapin, who runs the University of Minnesota’s Program for Excellence in Election Administration. “What Los Angeles County is doing is just that.