Politics & Media
Aug 21, 2008, 07:03AM

States Ditching Touch-Screen Voting

After the immense controversy over ballots  in the 2000 election (remember how stupid hanging chads were?), many states ditched paper voting in favor of trendy new electronic machines. But now many of them are giving up on the touch-screen technology, after concerns about security and reliability proved too risky for the upcoming elections. Basically banks can figure out a way to make ATMs secure, but the government can't figure out how to do the same thing with voting.

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Citizens wish for the clarity of a popped chad. Photo by nathangibbs

It's a good time to pick up an electronic voting machine on the cheap—provided you're not a stickler for things like "accuracy" or "security." States are scrapping tens of thousands of pricey touchscreen systems in response to mounting concerns about the machines' reliability.

After the butterfly ballot debacle of the 2000 presidential election, in which scores of elderly Floridians revealed a surprising fondness for Pat Buchanan, electronic voting was touted as the way to avoid any such fiasco in the future. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which allocated some $3 billion in federal grants to help states upgrade their voting equipment—$2 billion of which had been spent by the end of 2007.

Now, however, many of those states—including Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee, and New Mexico—are ditching touchscreen kiosks with price tags as high as $5,000 each in favor of paper ballots.

  • Before he died, my grandfather's goal was to sell a touchscreen system with a zero error rate across the American South. He found nothing but corruption and incest between the state governments and the mega-giant voting machine companies. Maybe the switch back to paper ballots is a turn away from the sins of the past. Or maybe the politicians have found a way to cut out the middleman and keep the HAVA money for themselves.

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