Over the aing several years, letters commissioned by admiral in California, Maryland and Ohio begin added problems with Died machines and agnate issues with machines from added manufacturers. Problems with voting machines in elections were additionally authoritative headlines. In 2002 in North Carolina, for example, D.R.E.s fabricated by ES&S bootless to almanac 436 absolute ballots during aboriginal voting in Wake County, a abortion the aggregation attributed to a software bug. Two years later, in Jacksonville, N.C., a D.R.E. fabricated by UniLect absent added than 4,500 ballots back its anamnesis became abounding and chock-full recording; it connected to let voters casting ballots, however, instead of locking up. The incidents that fabricated account were advancing enough, but the absolute apropos were the ones that weren’t actuality caught.
The problems with voting machines did not go absolutely disregarded on Capitol Hill. In May 2003, Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, alien an alteration to HAVA that would crave all voting machines to aftermath a voter-verifiable cardboard aisle and to authorization accidental chiral audits. It was an befalling for assembly like Hoyer, who absent the aegis issues with D.R.E.s the aboriginal time, to accomplish up for the oversight. But still they resisted. Hoyer told me, “I didn’t anticipate Rush was correct” about cardboard trails. Hoyer and added assembly believed that the new voting systems were “in actuality reliable and defended and user-friendly. Now I anticipate in hindsight we were acutely wrong, because our apriorism was the machines were not accountable to actuality hacked. And now we know.”
The alarming 2004 presidential acclamation in Ohio, in which Kerry was denied admission to the voting software, provided a able case for why cardboard and audits were necessary. A lot of Ohio counties still acclimated bite cards, but some had adopted D.R.E.s and optical-scan systems. For one belt of Franklin County, which acclimated D.R.E.s fabricated by a aggregation alleged Danaher Control, the election-management arrangement tallied 4,258 votes for Bush, admitting alone 638 voters casting ballots. Back admiral pulled votes stored in the D.R.E., Bush’s absolute was 365. In Mahoning County, voters application 25 D.R.E.s fabricated by ES&S begin that back they affected the screens to vote for John Kerry, the machines interpreted it as a vote for Bush, not an aberrant botheration back blow screens are ailing calibrated. “Undervoting” — back a acclamation shows no vote in a accurate chase — was additionally awfully aerial in the state. Democratic precincts beyond Ohio had 75 percent added undervotes than predominantly Republican ones. In two precincts in Montgomery County that acclimated punch-card machines, the computer tabulators adumbrated that 6,000 ballots had no vote for admiral — an undervote amount of 25 percent, while 2 percent is normal. A aldermanic analysis begin “numerous austere acclamation irregularities” in Ohio but ultimately couldn’t achieve whether artifice had occurred.
The incidents in Ohio approved that American elections still had candor problems, but there was little constituency for change. In 2005, Holt alien a aberration of his 2003 ameliorate bill, and already afresh it bound died, in allotment because voting-machine vendors launched a appalling lobbying accomplishment to annihilate the claim of cardboard trails. Some accompaniment acclamation admiral aing the effort, arguing that abacus printers to D.R.E.s would actualize problems for aged poll workers if the printers awash or ran out of paper. The American Affiliation of Bodies With Disabilities was additionally appreciably able in lobbying adjoin cardboard trails, arguing that they discriminated adjoin dark voters, alike admitting the aforementioned audio that assisted dark voters to mark their agenda acclamation could apprehend the cardboard aisle to them. The affiliation abiding the League of Women Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union, two politically able groups, to argue cardboard trails as well.
A additional above undervote adventure with D.R.E.s in 2006 additionally bootless to move Congress. In Sarasota, Fla., added than 18,000 ballots casting on D.R.E.s fabricated by ES&S showed no vote in the chase for the 13th Aldermanic District. Kathy Dent, the administrator of elections, insisted that voters either didn’t see that accurate challenge or advised to leave it blank. But abstracts I acquired through a public-records appeal showed that poll workers in 19 precincts alleged her appointment on Acclamation Day and during the primary months afore it to canyon forth aborigine complaints about the machines. Many appear that back they approved to vote for Christine Jennings, a Democrat, the awning bootless to annals their touch. Jennings absent by beneath than 400 votes. The adventure led Florida — the accompaniment whose punch-card abortion prompted the civic about-face to paperless D.R.E.s — to authorization the use of voter-marked cardboard ballots. But back Holt reintroduced his bill in Congress in 2007 and 2009 to do the same, he still couldn’t get any interest.
Despite this admeasurement of voting-machine problems, the industry was accretion its ability and control, alike as it was apperception ability into beneath hands. By 2010, ES&S was so big — it had bought Died’s acclamation analysis and controlled added than 70 percent of the bazaar — that the Justice Department filed an antitrust clothing and appropriate it to advertise off some of its assets. Many acclamation officials, baffled by the new technology and clumsy to appoint committed I.T. staff, purchased complete suites of acclamation casework from vendors, casework that in some cases included programming ballot-definition files for voting machines and acceptable with tabulation. It became accepted to see voting-machine advisers or their bounded contractors in acclamation offices before, during and afterwards elections, and in some cases alike alive in acclamation offices abounding time. ES&S, for instance, alike installed remote-access software and modems on election-management systems to accretion alien admission to them from its Nebraska address to troubleshoot back things went wrong. And back things did go amiss with machines, it was generally the bell-ringer who advised and supplied the account that was fed to the account media and the public.
The companies additionally broadcast their ability into added genitalia of the elections process. Some states congenital their HAVA-mandated voter-registration databases in-house, but some outsourced this to Died and ES&S, the companies that fabricated their voting machines, as able-bodied as to added firms. And already these centralized databases were in place, the vendors saw an befalling for addition acquirement stream: They abiding states to alter cardboard poll books — the lists poll workers use to verify that voters are registered — with cyberbanking poll books that could accompany with the statewide databases. The software on these accessories didn’t accept to abide testing and acceptance the way voting machines do, and there were assured problems — in 2006 in Denver, Sequoia cyberbanking poll books comatose extensively, creating continued curve for an estimated 20,000 bodies who larboard after voting. In 2008 in Georgia, Died cyberbanking poll books acquired delays abiding added than two hours.
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