2010 Election Machine Round-Up

Photo: Flickr User Patja

This was an election week, and while there was some national tumult and a few surprises, most of the races in New York ended in utterly predictable results. Still, the usual political charge filled the air as folks in the Empire State chose a new governor, comptroller, senator, and more.

Because of 2002’s Help America Vote Act, election districts across the country have a mandate to migrate to digital machines. The transition hasn’t been painless; In fact, some of the more heated debate went to the New York State’s new election machines. These new optical voting booths require people to fill out a paper ballot and use scan it.

During the September primaries, problems with the new technology even resulted with Bloomberg ousting George Gonzalez, the Chief of Elections. These elections were much calmer than this round, but some of the more repeated complaints included:

  • The writing was too small. Many voters, especially older ones, complained of difficulty reading some of their ballots.
  • A recent article in the Great Neck Record showed that communities were concerned with the possibility of voter fraud. In fact chief of the Nassau County Board of Elections even questioned both the contracting of machines to a for-profit company as well as the chances of hacking.
  • Some machines can be unreliable. Governor-elect Cuomo might have seen this first-hand; as he voted in Mt. Kisco, one of three optical scanning machines were “out of service.” Obviously every voting machine, even the old lever systems, will have problems, but the newer the technology, the harder it is to draw a qualified technician to fix these issues.
  • Issues don’t stop with technology. The Daily News followed up on many complaints where voters had no idea there were ballot initiatives on the other side. This led to a surprisingly low response rate to a couple of key questions including a lifting of term limits.

Were there any other voting issues? Please let us know in the comments below!

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