Following the Paper Trail

Feb 21, 2008

In the not-too-distant past, American elections got an overhaul. The problems identified in the 2000 presidential election with punchcard voting systems convinced policymakers in state capitals and on Capitol Hill that change was needed – particularly in the method by which ballots were designed, cast and counted.

Bolstered by public discontent and the availability of federal dollars, voter-rich states including Florida, California and Ohio replaced older voting systems with touch-screen or scrolling-wheel electronic voting machines.

The newer machines offered flexibility and features the older systems, mostly punch cards, never could – no more over-votes, the ability to display multiple languages on the same machine, accessibility for a wide range of voters with disabilities and no more ambiguity when determining a voter’s intent.

Machines were bought. Millions of dollars were spent. Votes were cast. Controversy ensued.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, please visit electionline.org.

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