US Warned of Ballot Box Chaos as Elections Near
Report says 10 states not ready for electronic vote. Scientist hacks into new polling machine on TV.
By Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian UK
Friday 27 October 2006
Six years after the emergence of the now infamous "hanging chad" in the 2000 presidential elections, monitoring groups warn that technological glitches and hackers could throw next month's mid-term elections into chaos.
With polling day less than two weeks away, a report this week by electionline.org, a non-partisan organisation, anticipates problems at the ballot box in as many as 10 states.
"Machine failures, database delays and foul-ups, inconsistent procedures, new rules and new equipment have some predicting chaos at the polls at worst, and widespread polling place snafus at best," the report says.
The mid-term elections will be the first national test of new voting procedures introduced in the aftermath of the 2000 election debacle in Florida, when it took a month of court challenges and recounts of punch-card ballots before George W Bush was declared to have won the state, and became president.
In the wake of that fiasco, Congress allotted $3.8bn (£2bn) to the states to modernise voting lists and replace the old-style punch-card systems with electronic voting machines by early 2006.
Election officials in more than 30 states opted for touch-screen voting machines that use a series of prompts to guide voters through the ballot. But the new machines have merely reawakened the old anxieties about miscounted votes and deliberate fraud.