December 1, 2006

E-Voting and Cuyahoga County

Filed under: Information Politics, Newton — marcstober @ 11:43 am

Interesting article (via EFF) that Cuyahogo County, Ohio may replace their new e-voting machines. Interesting personally because it’s where my wife’s family is from, and I’ve been to the county courthouse myself to get my marriage license. Interesting politically for two reasons:

1. This is the greater Cleveland area which, on its own, is much closer to being a “blue state” than the rest of Ohio, so it does affect Ohio’s electoral college vote and the national election.

2. The article says they may be using more optical-scanner machines. I’ve voted with these in Newton and Brookline and, as I found in the last primary, they can actually be pretty high tech – it took less than a second for the machine to read and reject my ballot because I’d accidentally voted twice in the same race. The optical systems could be best of both worlds – an inherently paper system that also has the benefits of an electronic system.

Note that in Brookline and Newton you use a marker to fill in a circle on a card; this is not the punch type of system with “hanging chads.” What makes this system ideal is that the electronic ballot box gives the voter immediate feedback as to whether their ballot is valid (and there is a procedure to destroy and replace the ballot in the voter’s presence) so there is no gathering up the ballots and guessing at what a partially-punched circle means later, as there was in Florida in the 2000 election.