Voting technology roundup: Woes in the Lake States?

STATES: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

The only thing observers can't agree on with the Lake States is precisely how ugly things are going to get -- The Century Foundation names five of the region's eight states as potentially troubled in 2006, while Electionline goes with a relatively modest three. But the combination of historical election woes, pressing technology questions and heated races leave no doubt that these are the states most likely to be under discussion on Nov. 8 -- and for weeks afterward.

Topping most lists of American trouble spots is Ohio, where a tight election, indications of partisanship in the secretary of state's office, historical problems with getting machines to the precincts, a court battle over voter identification rules, known problems with certain models of machines in use, and lingering suspicion over the difficulties of 2004 promise an uproar on and after Nov. 7. If you have the stomach to follow just one set of results (besides your own) on Election Day, make it this one. Pennsylvania joins Ohio on most watch lists, with paperless electronic machines in use, high turnout expected, a tight race to be decided and various cases moving through the courts.

Much of the rest of the region has struggled as well. Indiana, the third state on Electionline's watch list, has suffered from database problems and even experienced delivery issues when ES&S was unable to ship its contracted machines. A challenge to new voter-ID rules could further complicate matters. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, meanwhile, have struggled to manage questions about machine reliability in addition to having problems getting machines to the necessary precincts (Michigan, Minnesota) and a potentially chaotic new registration-confirmation system (Wisconsin). In addition, claims of disenfranchisement of African-American voters seem to be particularly rampant in the Lake states -- not a technology issue, but another potential problem nonetheless.

evoting checkmark
 indicates a state where at least some precincts are using electronic voting systems without a voter verified paper audit trail.

ILLINOIS
Registered voters

Approx. 6,437,000
Voting equipment vendors
- Diebold, ES&S, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia, Populex
Technologies
Ballot-marking, optical scan, direct-recording electronic (DRE) systems with a voter-verified paper audit trail
Legal issues
State law requires voter-verifiable paper records and manual audits in randomly selected precincts. After glitches in Sequoia machines delayed results in some March primaries for nearly a week, Chicagoland officials say they'll withhold some of the $26 million due to that company until after the November elections.
Voter registration database
State has signed a contract with Catalyst Consulting and a statewide computerized database is in place, but a final version that's compliant with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) has not yet been delivered. (See report from April 1, 2006, PDF format ). A glitch in the Board of Elections Web site for online registration, reported in October 2006 but apparently in place for years, could have been used to swipe Social Security numbers and personal information of up to 1.3 million voters.
Government links
Voting Information
Approval of Voting Systems
- HAVA plan (PDF format )
Watchdog sites
Illinois Ballot Integrity Project
In the news
NBC 5 voters report voting problems (viewer comments), NBC 5, Nov. 7, 2006
- Editorial (George Will): Technology could be loser on Election Day, Chicago Sun-Times, Oct, 29, 2006
Voters can tell themselves: It's only a movie, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 29, 2006
City withholds voting machine pay, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 25, 2006
Chicago voter info vulnerable to hackers, AP via TwinCities.com, Oct. 24, 2006
50 Questions for 5 States: Illinois  (Election Law @ Moritz, ongoing project)
Primary voting-machine troubles raise concerns for '06  , USAToday.com, March 26, 2006 (Texas and Illinois)
Returns are in: Software goofed, Chicago Tribune via TrueVoteMD, April 4, 2003

Return to the main map for Election 2006: Can we count on e-voting?

evoting checkmark

INDIANA
Registered voters
Approx. 3,031,000
Voting equipment vendors
Diebold, ES&S, MicroVote, Voting Technologies International
Technologies
Ballot-marking; optical scan, DRE
Legal requirements
State legislation requiring voter-verifiable paper trails and manual audits of randomly selected precincts has been proposed but not enacted. The state reported problems taking delivery on ES&S machines for which it had contracted. On Electionline's watch list.
Voter registration database
State contracted with Indiana-based Quest Information Systems; HAVA-compliant FirstTuesday database is live, though questions about performance, data accuracy and reliability continue to crop up. A court battle over whether photo IDs must be presented at the polls (for now, the courts say they must) may further complicate matters.
Government links
AccessIndiana: Election Day HQ
Voting Systems in Indiana  (with videos)
HAVA information
Watchdog sites
Verify The Vote Indiana
In the news
Will Your Vote Count?  WISH-TV (Indianapolis), ongoing coverage
Proof Positive? BMV Unable To Share Voter Registration Sigs With SVRS, posted to Taking Down Words, Aug. 28, 2006
Salon's shameful six, Salon.com, Aug. 15, 2006
Indiana's New Voter Registration System May Crash, WISH-TV, Feb. 27, 2006

Return to the main map for Election 2006: Can we count on e-voting?

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