Back to the Falling Sky

The New York Times has a sky is falling story today about the upcoming elections. The framing of the story is actually pretty funny. Here is the lead.

New electronic voting machines have arrived in Yolo County, Calif., but there is one hitch: the audio program for the visually impaired in some of them works only in Vietnamese.“Talk about panic,” said Freddy Oakley, the county’s top election official. “I’ve got gray-haired ladies as poll workers standing around looking stunned.”

As dozens of states are enforcing new voter registration laws and switching to paperless electronic voting systems, officials across the country are bracing for an Election Day with long lines and heightened confusion, followed by an increase in the number of contested results.

Paper-less voting systems? Has this reporter ever heard of a VVPAT? California does not allow paper-less voting systems and many of the states he lists as being problematic are also VVPAT states. Moreover, the article is full of comments that suggest that training, or the lack thereof, is the actual problem. (Note to readers, I am not blaming local election officials for that. Training problems are often the fault of county commissions failing to allocate funds for training to counties when they do these transitions.)

Charles Stewart has the best quote in the story.

Charles Stewart, head of the political science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a study this year indicating that from 2000 to 2004, new technology helped reduce the number of improperly marked ballots by about one million votes.

“If you think things are bad and worrisome now, they were much worse before 2000,” Mr. Stewart said, adding that breakdowns in the mechanics of voting are simply more highlighted, not more prevalent.