When You Read "Voting Machine Problems"…..

They really mean to say “the election officials in this jurisdiction failed to train their poll workers, maintain their voting machines, or otherwise ensure that this technology that they are implementing to run an election will work correctly.” See this story from Fast Company as an example:

New York State was one of several to vote today…Unfortunately, its brand-new electronic voting system wasn’t up for the challenge.  New York is the last state in the country to embrace electronic voting machines. [Note, these are NOT electronic voting machines.  They are electronic tabulators of paper ballots!]  These aren’t particularly advanced, either; they’re merely scanned sheets similar to the Scantron system used by schools for standardized tests. But the new system still caused widespread delays, breakdowns, and complaints–bad enough for Mayor Bloomberg to call the rollout “a royal screw-up.”

Delays were reported across the state and especially in some of the poorer urban neighborhoods in New York. Voters were turned away in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically poor area of Brooklyn, due to the failure of these new machines. Across the city and elsewhere in the state, there were delays, although to be fair, many news outlets seem to be exaggerating the inconvenience of some minor delays. Says the Wall Street Journal:

Among the many voters who experienced delays was New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer. His polling site in Brooklyn didn’t open on time, forcing Mr. Schumer and other voters to wait about 15 minutes. Even after the precinct opened, it took another 10 minutes for site workers to get the scanning machines up and running.

There were real problems: In addition to the Bedford-Stuyvesant example, some polling places received fewer machines than expected, causing huge delays, and at one polling place, the provided ballots were printed on paper too large to fit into the scanners. Many voters ended up stuffing their ballots into overstuffed “emergency voting boxes,” which led some to question whether their votes would actually be counted.

Here is an analogy.  Imagine reading this in the paper.

“A massive failure of road construction machines left dozens injured and the new highway in tatters after the DOT gave the temporary workers 2 hours of training and then let them loose with bulldozers, pavers, grating equipment, rollers, tar sprayers, and asphalt pouring machines.  ‘The machines clearly don’t work’, said the DOT spokesperson.”

I am thinking that maybe — just maybe — the failures in New York and elsewhere should be laid firmly at the feet of the administrators who failed to ensure that their implementation of the election went well.