Election Reform in 2006: Voting System Uncertainty

The Los Angeles Times has an article today–which quotes Mike–about the uncertainty that surrounds voting systems as states enter the final stretch of meeting the HAVA requirements for accessible voting technologies. The article notes that,

In some places, voters are facing their third balloting system in five years.

In California, counties have lurched from one voting system to another as the state has written and rewritten standards. Several counties are scrambling to redo their June election plans after the state’s top elections official raised new questions last month about an electronic voting machine in use for years.

Miami officials talk of scrapping their 3-year-old electronic machines, while Mercer County, Pa., officials want to keep theirs but were ordered by state authorities to take them out of service after glitches during the 2004 presidential election.

“It pretty much left the county up a tree,” said Tom Rookey, elections chief of the Steel Belt county on the Ohio border.

In Connecticut, the secretary of state is tussling with the federal government over how quickly the state must replace its decades-old lever-style voting machines with electronic machines.

Indiana’s largest county has sued the company that sold it electronic voting machines. Across the border in Ohio, the same company has sued the state.

“It’s been crazy,” said San Diego County Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas, who said he is returning to paper ballots because the state refused to recertify more than 10,000 electronic machines the county bought two years ago. “Everyone is in uncharted territory here.”

The Times notes that the 2004 election had fewer problems than occurred in 2000, but there is still a need to develop a meaningful mechanism for regulating all voting technologies, but especially electronic voting machines.