New Study Shows Massive Error Rates In E-Voting Machines

from the that-can-swing-an-election dept

Just as e-voting firm Sequoia is resisting having its machines reviewed independently, the Brookings Institute has put a bunch of e-voting machines to the test, and found error rates around 3% on some of the machines. These weren't errors due to software problems, but usability problems, where the design of the system resulted in people voting for a candidate they did not want. 3% is a huge number, and could easily change the results of an election. While the study found that people generally like e-voting technology, that still doesn't mean it's particularly effective. One other interesting part of the finding: when there was a voter-verified paper trail, it didn't cut down on errors. This suggests that many voters were either confused or didn't even bother to verify their vote. This should all be very worrisome. Even ignoring the technology problems that these machines have been shown to have, the fact that the design tends to create so many mistake votes should lead people to seriously question the use of e-voting machines.

Filed Under: e-voting, error rates
Companies: brookings, diebold, es&s, sequoia


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  1. identicon
    Jim, 23 Mar 2008 @ 8:46am

    There is no perfect system

    After the 2000 election, and again leading up to the Gray Davis recall election, many invoked the sanctity of the vote as the reason we had to overhaul the election system, lest anyone be "disenfranchised." Studies of paper ballots indicated error rates between 2% and 4%. The issue is not technology. Systems dependent on the uncoordinated actions of many people are inherently error-prone. Voting, which is inherently individualistic, is no exception. The best we can do is have back-up plans, such as recounts and paper records, for those occasions where the original vote is within around 5%. These backup plans will have their own errors. No system will guarantee a result acceptable to all where the count is within 500 votes out of millions, ala Florida 2000.

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