Do Voters Who Use Electronic Voting Machines Find Them Easy to Use?
Cathy Cox, Georgia Secretary of State, explained in her July 2003 report "Touch the Future of Voting: Georgia's Guide to Election Reform":
"Empirical evidence of these voter sentiments came in February 2003 when the University of Georgia's Car Vinson Institute of Government released the results of an independent poll showing...that 97% of respondents reported that they had no difficulties using the new touch screen voting terminals...
The Vinson Institute's survey, which polled 800 randomly selected adults and is projected to have a margin of error of +/- 3.5%, demonstrates that voters found the equipment easy to use."
Harry Hochheiser, PhD, Computer-Human Interaction Researcher, stated in his 2005 white paper "The Need for Usability of Electronic Voting Systems: Questions for Voters and Policy Makers":
"In a field study of voting systems similar to some of those used in the November 2004 elections, most participants had favorable impressions of the system, felt comfortable with the system, found it easy to read, were able to correct mistakes, and trusted that the votes were counted correctly."
The Daily Herald (Utah) ran a story on July 6, 2006 titled "Vote's In: New Machines Are a Hit," in which Alan Choate explained:
June 27 primary marked the first time most voters in the state used the
[electronic voting] machines, and anecdotal reports indicated that the
balloting went smoothly. The exit poll, conducted by Brigham Young
University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, reported
that voters in Utah's 3rd Congressional District considered the
machines easy to use and an improvement over punchcard voting.
voters are very positive about the new equipment' said Quin Monson, an
assistant professor of political science at BYU... Of those who
participated in the poll, 96.8 percent said they had 'no problem' using
the voting machines, and 88.4 percent either strongly agreed or
somewhat agreed that they were easy to use."
The National Council of La Raza, in testimony given by Angela Arboleda, Civil Rights Policy Analyst before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on May 5, 2004, stated:
show that voters prefer electronic voting because it is easy to use,
thus increasing voter confidence. According to the San Bernardino
County Registrar of Voters, a recent survey found that 98% of the
voters considered their electronic voting system 'superior' or 'very
superior' to any voting system they had ever used before...
Solano County, California, survey of 14,500 voters showed that 97% of
the voters found the new touch screens easy to use; 86% liked touch
screen systems more than punch card systems."
Diebold Election Systems put out a press release titled "Diebold Election Systems' Touch-Screen Deployment Described As Great Success," on Nov. 10, 2005 which stated:
the county on Election Day, voters who had the opportunity to cast
their vote on Diebold AccuVote touch-screen systems raved about the
ease and speed of the high-tech process, and election officials
received positive feedback from throughout the electorate...
were extremely pleased with the ease of use of the system, which was
especially important considering this was the first time the system was
used by poll workers and voters throughout Lorain County (Ohio),'
stated Marilyn Jacobcik, director of elections, Lorain County Board of
Benjamin Bederson, PhD, Director of Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland, explained in their Oct. 2002 paper "Electronic Voting System Usability Issues," published in CHI Letters,:
"[Electronic voting] systems offer the promise of faster and more accurate voting, but the current reality is that they are fraught with usability and systemic problems...
When asked to report their overall impressions about using the system (rated between difficult and easy-to-use), 80 percent of the respondents reported the system was easy to use (rated 8 or 9), 10 percent reported it was moderately easy to use (rated 7), and the remaining 10 percent indicated it was anywhere from difficult to somewhat challenging to use (rated from 1 to 6)...
These systems have promise, but the bottom line is that about 10% of the voters we talked to had significant concerns. While 90% satisfaction may be acceptable for some usability studies, we feel strongly that digital government initiatives in general, and voting systems in particular must have higher standards. With important national elections being decided by less than 1% of the voters, leaving 10% unconfident about their vote is a major problem."
Ellen Theisen, CEO of the Vote-PAD Company, offered the following commentary in an email correspondence with ProCon.org on June 3, 2006:
number of malfunctions and election messes are blamed on 'human error.'
Of course all of them are human error, if you include the programmers
and designers of the equipment, but even limiting our discussion to
voter error and poll worker error points to a severe problem with the
machines. If equipment is so complicated to use that poll workers and
voters make so many errors, can it really be called 'usable?' I don't
think so. The complexity actually becomes one more way that voters are
disenfranchised by the computerized machines. We all know that using a
new software program is a challenging and error-prone activity, and now
voters are expected to do exactly that on election day."
Bob Kibrick, Legislative Analyst for the Verified Voting Foundation and Verified Voting.org, wrote an article for the Verified Voting Foundation on Nov. 1, 2004 titled "Urgent Warning to Voters Using Touch Screen/DRE Voting Machines" detailing accounts of voters having difficulty using the machines to record their intended choice:
reported that the iVotronic [a model of DRE] touch screens registered
selections for candidates that the voters had not intended to select.
If voters rest their hands or thumbs on or near the edge of the touch
screen, then the voting machine can register a selection where none was
voters in New Mexico, Texas, and Florida have reported serious problems
when attempting to select individual candidates or to vote a straight
party ticket. Many voters reported that when they attempted to select
one candidate or party, the machine instead registered a choice for a
different candidate or party. Voters reported having to make repeated
attempts to get the voting machines to finally register their intended
County [New Mexico] County Clerk Mary Herrera said she doesn't believe
the touch-screen system has been making mistakes. It's the fault of the
voters, she said Thursday... 'They are touch screens. People are
touching them with their palms, or leaning their hand... They're
hitting the wrong button.'"
The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project July 2001 report "Voting: What Is and What Could Be," explained:
"The mechanics of voting on these [electronic voting] machines are often confusing. It is often not obvious how to undo a selection, how to check that all races have been voted, how to distinguish between the offices, and how to register the votes. Some interfaces are 'too responsive': a voter can push a button for the next page and more than one page will pass by without the voter seeing it."