By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2004-11-03 Print this article Print

-Selected Ballots"> The problems with machines, plus problems with inadequate training, lack of access to electricity and the like, were so bad that some polls opened hours late. Cohn said polls in some parishes in Louisiana never opened at all on Election Day. But generally, reports of machine malfunctions were fewer than many had expected. Despite the record voter turnout, problems were minimal in most areas. "They dont seem to be causing as much of a problem as wed anticipated," said Common Cause researcher James Benton. Election staffs appeared to be well-trained and were able to provide backup voting as needed. But there were exceptions, such as in New Orleans, where there was no provision for voting if the electronic voting machines didnt work. "When and if an e-voting machine goes sour, and you dont have paper ballots available, its hard to recover," Doherty said.
The fact that problems were uncommon didnt mean they were absent, however. According to EFF e-voting attorney Matt Zimmerman, areas of South Florida made famous for botched elections and pregnant chads were finding problems with electronic voting as well.
"In Palm Beach County, voters were presented with ballots that were pre-selected," Zimmerman said. He said this meant that voting choices had already been made, and that it was up to the voters to clear those selections and enter the votes they really wanted. This problem wasnt noted anywhere else, although neighboring Broward County and Miami-Dade County had problems with broken machines and lacked spares. Click here for a column on potential e-voting errors. In general, however, few patterns appeared that were attributable to e-voting, although a number of problems were indirectly related. Precincts around the country reported to Common Cause that they were opening late, mostly due to training issues that made it harder than expected to get the e-voting machines up and running. In addition, many jurisdictions, especially in Ohio and Florida, hadnt purchased enough e-voting machines, leaving polling places with fewer machines than were actually required, or without any spares as happened in Miami. The lack of enough machines meant that lines were longer than anticipated, and in some cases, much longer. Next Page: Top suggestions include guaranteeing a paper trail that can be audited later.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel