InfoSENTRY, an information technology company that specializes in security and systems analysis, recently released some new survey data on opinions of Americans regarding confidence of electronic voting systems. Based on the news release put out recently by InfoSENTRY, the survey question they posed to a national probability sample of 1004 American adults was:
“Now I am going to read to you some methods people use to vote in elections for public officials and ballot issues throughout the United States. As I read each one, please tell me on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means very low trust and 5 means very high trust, how much you trust each voting method to produce confidential and accurate election results. [READ AND ROTATE STATEMENTS]
1. Going to a polling place and making your choices directly on a computer screen and having the computer count the results
2. Going to a polling place, marking your choices on a paper ballot, and having your ballot counted by a computer scanner
3. Getting your ballot in the mail, marking your choices on the paper ballot, and mailing your ballot back to be counted by a computer scanner
4. Using a computer at your home, office, or some other place of your choice to cast your ballot over the Internet”
The press release had the following information on the results of the survey:
The following table shows the “positive trust scores” for the four types of voting systems in each of InfoSENTRY’s last three national opinion surveys. InfoSENTRY calculated these positive trust scores by adding the results of respondents who selected a “4” or “5” on the five-point scale.
2004 Positive 2005 Positive 2006 Positive Trust Score Trust Score Trust Score DREs 68% 62% 68% Polling Place Optical Scan 59% 64% 61% Vote-by-Mail 31% 35% 38% Internet Voting 32% 29% 30%
It is interesting to note that, based on the way this question was posed to respondents that opinion has been relatively stable regarding electronic voting and polling place optical scanning, with these survey respondents expressing a relatively high degree of trust in both these voting technologies since 2004. Second, it is also interesting to see, certainly between 2004 and 2006, a slight increase in the expressed level of confidence in vote-by-mail, perhaps a reflection of the increased availability of vote-by-mail methods across the nation, and their increased use in recent elections in many states.
It would be fascinating to see more detailed analysis of these survey data; the press release promises “detailed results and analysis of this survey and attitude trends … on February 14”, but I’ve not yet been able to find more detailed information than the press release. If and when it is available, I’ll post it in a subsequent essay.