Did electronic voting machines work well in the November 7, 2006 General Election?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Election Data Services explained the transition to new voting systems and the number of people who will use electronic voting machines in their Oct. 2, 2006 website report "Almost 55 Million, or One-Third of the Nation's Voters, Will Face New Voting Equipment in 2006 Election":
"Nearly one-third of the nation's registered voters will face new voting equipment this November, compared to the November 2004 election two years ago. Since the turbulent presidential election of 2000 and the resulting enactment of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), jurisdictions with 63% of the nation's registered voters have changed their voting systems, marking the largest shift in voting equipment in this nation's history...
Voting system changes this year were dominated by smaller jurisdictions, where resources to help the conversion are more limited... Thirty-six percent (36%) of the counties, with 38.4% of the registered voters, will be using direct recording Electronic (DRE) equipment."
Did electronic voting machines work well in the November 7, 2006 General Election?
Paul DeGregorio, a Commissioner and former Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, stated in a Jan. 9, 2007 opinion piece in the Clarion Ledger titled "How to Hold Successful Elections":
"The 2006 election was a success: Most of the millions of Americans who cast their ballots did so with confidence. Despite some isolated problems, exit polls showed that in 98 percent of the U.S. jurisdictions, the process worked so well that voter confidence rose to levels not seen since before Election 2000... The resources provided by the Help America Vote Act made the process demonstrably better, especially by setting up new voting systems, securing the accuracy of those systems, recruiting and training poll workers and serving voters with disabilities."
Tom Wilkey, Executive Director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, stated in a Nov. 8, 2006 interview that appeared in the Los Angeles Times story "Voting Nationwide Relatively Problem Free":
"When you look at a situation where we have 183,000 precincts in this country, there have been very, very few problems proportionately. Nationally about one-third of registered voters were using high-tech voting equipment for the first time. Nearly 90 percent of all voters cast ballots using either touch-screen machines or optically scanned paper ballots."
Diebold Election Systems, a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, summarized the performance of their equipment in a Nov. 13, 2006 press release "Diebold Voting Systems Used Successfully In Many Parts Of The Nation":
Election Day 2006, voters in many states across the nation used
electronic voting technology from Diebold Election Systems to cast
their votes and sign in at polling locations. Ballots cast across the
states of Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Utah and elsewhere were
counted accurately and securely by election officials using Diebold
touch-screen and optical scan electronic voting machines...
70 percent of Diebold touch-screen machines that were used on Election
Day had a voter-verifiable paper record and all use independently
tested technology and security protocols... In addition, touch-screen
machines, including the 130,000 Diebold touch-screen machines used
across the country, have accessibility features that let seniors and
people with vision disabilities cast their votes with assurance and
Byrd, president, Diebold Election Systems [said], 'While there is
always room for improvement and the process will get even better with
repetition, we believe Election Day 2006 was a significant step forward
for the broad acceptance of electronic voting."
Election Systems and Software (ES&S), a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, summarized the performance of their equipment in their Nov. 8, 2006 press release "Update: Election Day 2006":
"For more than two years, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) has been working with election officials across the country to anticipate and prepare for yesterday's election. This was an incredibly important event, marking for the first time, nationwide compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). We are very proud of the role we played, and the overwhelmingly successful use of our voting solutions.
ES&S supported nearly 1,800 jurisdictions in 43 states, representing 67 million registered voters... Given the scope of this election, and the dramatic change as a result of implementing HAVA, it was a very smooth day. Overall, the voting equipment functioned well, and results were reported within expected timeframes...
We and our election official partners across the country carried out the greatest transformation in the way elections are run since the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s. Though there have been challenges, the benefits are profound: voting technology that better captures voter intent; accessible voting solutions for voters who have been disenfranchised in the past; and a more efficient election process."
Doug Lewis, Director of The Election Center, Tova Andrea Wang, Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation, and Daniel Tokaji, J.D. each gave their assessment of the performance of electronic voting machines in the 2006 General Election for a Nov. 8, 2006 USA Today article titled "Glitches Made Voting Tough For Some":
looks like it actually went better than everybody expected,' said Doug
Lewis of the Election Center. 'My God, it's a big country, and you'd
expect some glitches,' ...
Andrea Wang, an elections expert at The Century Foundation, a
non-partisan think tank, said, 'There's no national meltdown. There's
the kind of isolated problems that do disenfranchise people. None of
this should come as a shock to anyone,' ...
appear to have gone much more smoothly than a lot of people feared,'
said Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State law professor. 'It certainly could have
been a lot worse.'"
VotersUnite!, Vote TrustUSA, and Voter Action jointly stated in the Jan. 2007 report "E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections: A Sampling of Problems Across the Nation":
"The mid-term election revealed that the promise of easier voting, more accurate tallies, and faster results with electronic systems has not been fulfilled... The number of incidents and the broad range of problems reported is indicative of the widespread failure of electronic voting systems across the country and how this failure affected the experience of voters on November 7, 2006."
Common Cause explained in their Nov. 8, 2006 report available on their website "Getting It Straight: A Preliminary Look at Data Collected from Voters During the Elections of 2006":
"Compared to 2004, the complaints that registered the greatest increase concerned mechanical problems with electronic voting machines. In 2004, about 3 percent of calls identified machine problems. This year 16.9 percent, or more than five times the calls in 2004, concerned mechanical problems. Mechanical problems encompass: voting machines not at the polls, voting machine malfunctions, confusing voting screens, voting machines that cast the vote for the wrong candidates, or that fail to be accessible to handicapped voters... Some voters were unable to vote or were not sure that their ballots would be counted as cast...
Voters in New Jersey, Florida, and Texas seemed particularly hobbled by touch screen machines that appeared to 'flip' the political party and candidate of their choice to the other party's candidate. In New Jersey, there were reports that several voters who wished to vote for Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean were concerned that the machines had registered votes for his Democratic opponent, Sen. Robert Menendez. Callers in Texas and Florida had similar difficulties."
Ellen Theisen, CEO of the VotePAD Company, stated in a Nov. 9, 2006 article "What, Exactly, Is an Election Meltdown?" www.vote-pad.us (accessed Nov. 9, 2006):
"The saying goes, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' But what if it IS broke, and those who could fix it says that it ain't?
Paul DeGregorio, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission; Doug Lewis of the Election Center; Doug Chapin of electionline.org; Dan Tokaji, Ohio State law professor; California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and other secretaries of state tell us that the feared 'meltdown' just didn't happen on November 7, 2006... With multi-hundreds of news reports of election problems across the country - a fraction of the problems that actually occurred - you have to wonder what a meltdown would have to look like...
What if voting machines failed at thousands of polling places in over half the states, and the problems caused such severe delays in eight states that voting hours were extended? Is that 'just a few glitches?' What if voting machines of every brand switched people's votes or lost their votes in states from Florida to Pennsylvania? ... What if dozens of people reported that their votes for one Congressional race disappeared from the touch screen, and the election director refused to take the machines out of service, and the results showed that 13% of the voters (18,000) hadn't registered a vote in that race? And what if the margin of victory was 368 votes, and there was no way to audit the results? [Is that] a minor problem?"
Brad Friedman, a fair election advocate, wrote in his Nov. 10, 2006 article "Opinion: E-voting Transition A Disaster," in Computerworld magazine:
"'Voting System Worked, With Some Hiccups,' declared the AP headline on Wednesday. 'Polling Places Report Snags, But Not Chaos,' echoed The New York Times. 'Hiccups'? 'Snags'? Try telling that to the thousands of voters around the country who were unable to simply cast a vote last Tuesday because new, untested electronic voting machines failed to work. Monumentally. Across the entire country...
In Illinois 'hundreds of precincts were kept open - because of late openings at polling places related to machine problems' and in Indiana 'voting equipment problems led to extensions of at least 30 minutes in three counties.' ... 18,000 votes seem to have vanished into thin air via ES&S iVotronic touch-screen machines (no paper trails, much less countable paper ballots) in Sarasota County, site of Florida's 13th U.S. Congressional District contest between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings. There's currently a 368-vote difference between them but there's no paper to examine to figure out what may have gone wrong and explain how a 13% undervote rate was found in only in that race."
TrueVoteMD, an election integrity organization in Maryland, released an initial assessment of Election Day problems titled "Problems on Election Day," on Nov. 7, 2006 which stated:
"TrueVoteMD operated its Election Day Hotline and fielded at least 75 incidents of machine malfunctions, check-in problems and major delays across the State [of Maryland]. Screens have been malfunctioning all over the State, where voters cannot select the candidate of their choice because either the check box is not available, or the screen does not allow them to select the candidate at all. Several voters complained that it took more than 3 tries to get the machine to work properly, resulting in major delays."