As the US heads into a historic and contentious presidential election, concerns over electronic voting technology could be about to stir up controversy over the legitimacy of some results.
Ironically, electronic voting machines were meant to make elections more reliable and secure. After the 2000 presidential election, when spoiled ballots and "hanging chads" sent the disputed result all the way to the Supreme Court, Congress began dispensing billions of dollars to help states replace punch-card ballots with more-sophisticated voting technology. Since then, however, concerns over the trustworthiness of electronic voting system have steadily grown.
Already in several key states, early voting has seen touch-screen voting machines "flip" votes from one candidate to another. Some voters casting early ballots in Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas say that machines have flipped their votes. All were able eventually to correct the mistake, but this has added a sense of urgency to long-held unease over the security and reliability of electronic voting systems.
Earlier this month, a report from Election Data Services (EDS), a Washington, DC-based firm that tracks election administration, said that electronic voting machine usage will drop this year for the first time ever. In Tuesday's election, 32.6 percent of all ballots will be cast using an electronic voting machine, compared to 37.6 percent in 2006, the equivalent of 10 million fewer voters. "Basically, the activists and the political scientists have kind-of won that battle," says EDS president Kimball Brace. "Most election administrators don't find it worthwhile trying to fight the battle and are trying to move on."
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
ABC News story provides overview of U.S. voting technology shifts
This November 3 ABC News article by Kurt Keiner provides a good overview of how voting technology changed between the 2004 and 2008 presidential election, and some examples of touchscreen voting problems found in early voting this season. Excerpts are below.