The image “http://www.votetrustusa.org/images/votetrust-small2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

 

   
National Issues

Election 2008: What Might Go Wrong PDF Print Email
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
November 03, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Tomorrow, as everyone knows, is Election Day in the U.S. With all the controversy over electronic voting, and the anticipated high turnout, what can we expect to see? What problems might be looming? Here are my predictions.

Long lines to vote: Polling places will be strained by the number of voters. In some places the wait will be long – especially where voting requires the use of machines. Many voters will be willing and able to wait, but some will have to leave without casting votes. Polls will be kept open late, and results will be reported later than expected, because of long lines.

Registration problems: Quite a few voters will arrive at the polling place to find that they are not on the voter rolls, because of official error, or problems with voter registration databases, or simply because the voter went to the wrong polling place. New voters will be especially likely to have such problems. Voters who think they should be on the rolls in a polling place can file provisional ballots there. Afterward, officials must judge whether each provisional voter was in fact eligible, a time-consuming process which, given the relative flood of provisional ballots, will strain official resources.

Voting machine problems: Electronic voting machines will fail somewhere. This is virtually inevitable, given the sheer number of machines and polling places, the variety of voting machines, and the often poor reliability and security engineering of the machines. If we’re lucky, the problems can be addressed using a paper trail or other records. If not, we’ll have a mess on our hands.

How serious the mess might be depends on how close the election is. If the margin of victory is large, as some polls suggest it may be, then it will be easy to write off problems as “minor” and move on to the next stage in our collective political life. If the election is close, we could see a big fight. The worse case is an ultra-close election like in 2000, with long lines, provisional ballots, or voting machine failures putting the outcome in doubt.

Regardless of what happens on Election Day, the next day -- Wednesday, November 5 -- will be a good time to get started on improving the next election. We have made some progress since 2004 and 2006. If we keep working, our future elections can be better and safer than this one.

Comment on This Article
You must login to leave comments...


Other Visitors Comments
There are no comments currently....
< Prev   Next >
National Pages
Federal Government
Federal Legislation
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
Federal Election Commission
Department of Justice - Voting Section
Non-Government Institutions
NASS
NASED
Independent Testing Authority
The Election Center
Carter Baker Commission
Topics
General
Voting System Standards
Electoral College
Accessibility
Open Source Voting System Software
Proposed Legislation
Voting Rights
Campaign Finance
Overseas/Military Voting
Canada
Electronic Verification
: mosShowVIMenu( $params ); break; } ?>