What’s wrong with Electronic Voting Systems?


This article tells about the weaknesses of online voting systems and includes some negative examples occured in US.

Important sections from article

Characteristics of a Decent Online Voting System Should Have:

  1. Accuracy: The goal of any voting system is to establish the intent of each individual voter, and translate those intents into a final tally. To the extent that a voting system fails to do this, it is undesirable. This characteristic also includes security: It should be impossible to change someone else’s vote, stuff ballots, destroy votes, or otherwise affect the accuracy of the final tally.
  2. Anonymity: Secret ballots are fundamental to democracy, and voting systems must be designed to facilitate voter anonymity.
  3. Scalability: Voting systems need to be able to handle very large elections. Nearly 120 million people voted in the US presidential election. About 372 million people voted in India’s May 2004 national elections, and over 115 million in Brazil’s October 2004 local elections. The complexity of an election is another issue. Unlike in many countries where the national election is a single vote for a person or a party, a United States voter is faced with dozens of individual election decisions: national, local, and everything in between.
  4. Speed. Voting systems should produce results quickly. This is particularly important in the United States, where people expect to learn the results of the day’s election before bedtime.


Problems Experienced in History

In Fairfax County, Virginia in 2003, a programming error in the electronic-voting machines caused them to mysteriously subtract 100 votes from one candidate’s totals.

In a 2003 election in Boone County, Iowa the electronic vote-counting equipment showed that more than 140,000 votes had been cast in the municipal elections, even though only half of the county’s 50,000 residents were eligible to vote.

In San Bernardino County, California in 2001, a programming error caused the computer to look for votes in the wrong portion of the ballot in 33 local elections, which meant that no votes registered on those ballots for that election. A recount was done by hand.

In Volusia County, Florida in 2000, an electronic voting machine gave Al Gore a final vote count of negative 16,022 votes.


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