Sorry, your vote does not compute

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published November 3, 2004 8:01AM (UTC)
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Among the election snafus around the country, voters in 39 states reported problems with e-voting machines, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Verified Voting Foundation. That's every single state that uses electronic voting machines, including swing states, such as Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

One unanticipated glitch: Voters didn't always accept the backup plan when voting machines failed. When offered paper ballots as an alternative, some voters refused to use them, saying they'd come back when the computers were up again, said Matt Zimmerman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation on a conference call from Miami with reporters. "Voters seem to find the backup ballots suspect."


In South Florida, the EFF and Verified Voting Foundation had several reports of voters choosing one candidate -- and finding that another one had been selected on the screen. In Palm Beach county, some voters trying to cast their ballots found that the answers had been pre-selected before they ever voted.

Florida hasn't seen anything like the voting problems it did in 2000, according to our correspondent Farhad Manjoo there. But the 2004 election's e-voting machine breakdowns exacerbated the long wait times in some counties, according to Zimmerman.

But New Orleans holds the dubious honor of being "the worst voting situation in the country with electronic voting," according to Cindy Cohn, also of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. So many machines didn't work there that election protection attorneys have filed suit to demand that the polls be held open later.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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