US readies e-voting systems as election approaches

Many US states switch to paper ballots in continuing migration from touch-screen e-voting machines

With about four weeks to go before the US presidential election, states across the US are preparing for heavy voter turnout that could cause problems for local elections officials and electronic voting systems.

To address those challenges, election officials say they're ramping up early to review Election Day preparations and ensure that there are enough paper ballots on hand and that poll workers are adequately trained.

To gauge that progress, Computerworld checked with several US states where e-voting problems have occurred since 2000 to see what changes have been made and how all is expected to proceed on November 4.

Critics have long argued that the controversial touch-screen electronic machines, where voters simply touch ballot selections on a screen to choose their candidates, are unreliable and provide no means for a paper trail to manually recount each vote in the event of a problem.

In response to such criticisms, many of those touch-screen machines, also called direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, were modified so that voters received a printout to confirm their choices when casting their ballots.

Other states have made even bigger system changes since the 2004 presidential election, moving away from DREs and replacing them in large part with paper ballot systems that use optical scanners to tally the votes.

Yet no system has proved flawless, as evidenced by August's primary election woes in Florida, where optically scanned paper ballots were used to replace what had been touch-screen-only e-voting machines.

While Florida election officials believe that the optical-scanning equipment worked properly, the large number of paper ballots -- 102,523 were cast in the primary -- caused trouble for officials who had to conduct a recount due to a judicial race that was separated by only 17 votes. The closeness of the race triggered a mandatory recount that remains unresolved because of problems in organizing and recounting the ballots.

Overall, the US has a mosaic of different kinds of voting systems that vary among states, counties and even precincts. Some voting districts use only one type of voting system, such as optically scanned paper ballots or touch screens with or without paper receipts, while many others use combinations of systems.

E-voting watchdog group Verified Voting provides a state-by-state and locality-by-locality interactive graphic that details the election systems used across the nation. Users can see the types of equipment used, as well as details on systems used by neighboring municipalities.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags e-voting

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Todd R. Weiss

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?