Open Source Voting Systems Open Source Voting Systems/man touching lens Design Department

Concerns about accuracy and trustworthiness have dogged electronic voting systems since their inception. Local governments throughout the United States began adopting direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in the early 2000s, and controversy soon followed.

The devices typically let users register their votes by pressing a button or touching a screen, eliminating paper ballots. But the lack of a paper trail and the potential for tampering with ballot results made many government officials and industry experts nervous.

"If the results are inaccurate, how do we know? We have to rely on the supplier to be able to do the right thing," said Brian Prentice, a research vice president with Gartner's Emerging Trends and Technologies Group.

In May 2004, California's then-Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned four counties from using e-voting machines and ordered 10 more to improve the machines' security and reliability. That same year, blank ballots were erroneously recorded for 134 Florida voters who used e-voting machines.

In August 2006, Pennsylvania voters sued their state to challenge the certification of DRE voting systems used in 56 counties. Their allegations included claims that the machines at times lost votes, counted votes twice and registered votes for one candidate when voters had voted for another.

View Full Story
Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  | 

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.