Last updated on: 5/19/2008 | Author:

What Are Electronic Voting Machines?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2005 report titled “Elections: Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to be Completed,” stated:

“Direct recording electronic (DRE) systems include the hardware, software, and firmware used to define ballots, cast and count votes, report or display election results, and maintain and produce audit trail information…

First introduced in the 1970s, DREs capture votes electronically, without the use of paper ballots… DREs come in two basic models: pushbutton and touchscreen…In general, the interface with the voter is very similar to that of an automated teller machine [ATM].”

2005 - US Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) included the following entry on its website (accessed Feb. 22, 2006):

“The most recent configuration in the evolution of voting systems are known as direct recording electronic, or DRE’s. They are an electronic implementation of the old mechanical lever systems. As with the lever machines, there is no ballot; the possible choices are visible to the voter on the front of the machine. The voter directly enters choices into electronic storage with the use of a touch-screen, push-buttons, or similar device. An alphabetic keyboard is often provided with the entry device to allow for the possibility of write-in votes. The voter’s choices are stored in these machines via a memory cartridge, diskette or smart-card and added to the choices of all other voters.”

Feb. 22, 2006 - US Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

The National Academy of Sciences 2005 report titled “Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting,” included the following description:

“The term ‘electronic voting system’ has been used to refer to a computer-based voting station located in the polling place with which citizens interact directly to cast their ballots – that is, in common parlance, an electronic voting system is an electronic ballot marking system…

A direct recording electronic (DRE) system allows the voter to make his or her choices and, when the voter is finished voting, provides the voter with the chance to verify all the votes cast and then records the votes when the voter takes some affirmative action to finalize the ballot…

DRE systems rely on a display screen to present the ballot to voters. For accepting input, some use touch screens, while other use mechanical selection devices… Because they are programmable devices, displays and other user interfaces can accommodate a variety of user needs.”

2005 - National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

Stephen Ansolabehere, Associate Head of MIT’s Department of Political Science, wrote in The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project (Version 2) Mar., 2001 article “Residual Votes Attributable to Technology: An Assessment of the Reliability of Existing Voting Equipment”:

“Direct recording electronic devices, DREs for short, are electronic versions of the lever machines…The distinguishing feature of a DRE is that an electronic machine records the voter’s intentions, rather than a piece of paper or mechanical device. To the extent that there is a paper trail it is generated by the machine, not the voter. Electronic machines vary along a couple of dimensions, having to do with the interface…[T]he interfaces are either push button or touch screen or key pads.”

Mar., 2001 - Stephen D. Ansolabehere, PhD