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E-Voting in the United States

E-Voting in the United States
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Author(s): Donald P. Moynihan (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 8
Source title: Electronic Government: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko (University of Tampere, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch092


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Many aspects of government have seen improvements in reliability, customer interface, speed, and cost as a result of digital innovations. In some jurisdictions, the most antiquated aspects of government are the voting technologies used during elections. Such technologies are expensive and used infrequently, which discourages public investment in updates. However, in close elections, any unreliability in these technologies can have a major impact on who takes control of government. The 2000 U.S. Presidential election hinged on the state of Florida, where antiquated punch-card voting machines, combined with poorly designed ballots and unclear recounting standards, were blamed for a high degree of uncertainty during a drawn-out recount process. This chapter looks at the growing adoption of e-voting in the form of direct recording electronic (DRE) machines in the U.S. following the 2000 election. Lawmakers enthusiastically endorsed the concept of e-voting with only a limited understanding of the risks involved. E-voting can be implemented in a number of ways—with or without a printed paper ballot, with open or proprietary software—that affect some of the risks associated with it. But some theorists of complex systems and many computer security specialists warn that any complex technology like e-voting machines are prone to failure and should not be trusted to count votes. A loosely coordinated online protest movement offered the argument that election reformers were moving too fast. E-voting since has received negative press coverage, which, in some cases, has slowed down the adoption of or led to additional requirements on the use of DREs.

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