Who Really Won?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Disaster On the Way

USA Today:

Eight weeks before elections that will decide control of Congress, a rush by state and local governments to prepare new voting machines and train poll workers is raising the possibility of trouble reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election standoff.

Problems range from delayed delivery of new equipment to an insufficient supply of trained technicians to fix anticipated problems, voting experts say.

Already this year, glitches have occurred in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Maryland became the latest on Tuesday, when technical problems, human errors and staff shortages led officials to keep some polls open an extra hour.

The fall elections shape up as the most technologically perilous since 2000, election officials say, because 30% of the nation's voting jurisdictions will be using new equipment. They include large parts of Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, scenes of key Senate races. "If you're ever going to have a problem, it's going to be that first election," says Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services.

Since 2000, nearly half of U.S. counties have switched from punch cards, lever machines and paper ballots to electronic voting or optical-scan ballots read by a computer. They continue to rely on poll workers who are on average 72 years old and lack computer experience.