10 November 2004

Serious Problems Remain With Voting System

November 10, 2004

Although major voting problems appear to have been avoided this year, serious issues remain in the nation's electoral system: electronic voting machine problems, long lines, confusion over provisional and absentee ballots and the lack of paper trails for lost votes. Computerized voter databases and upgraded technology, both mandated by the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) but so far under-funded and inconsistently enforced, should help resolve some of the problems by 2006. Some of the problems from this year's election include:

Electronic voting machines recorded "extra" votes. A voting machine in a suburban Columbus, OH precinct recorded an additional 3,893 votes for President Bush even though there were just 800 voters registered in the precinct. Similar glitches were discovered in e-voting machines across the country. There were as many as 10,000 extra e-votes cast in Nebraska and 19,000 mysterious "extra ballots" were added on electronic machines in Florida.

No paper trail for electronic machines meant some votes "disappeared." More than 4,000 early votes were lost in North Carolina's Carteret County because an electronic voting system could not store the volume of votes it received. This could have been avoided with a verifiable paper trail.

Long lines made voting difficult for millions of Americans. The most common problem of all in this year's election was long lines which caused hours-long waits in many precincts in the country. The problems appeared to be particularly acute in some low-income areas due to the lack of adequate numbers of voting machines.


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