Electronic Voting Machines

Voting machines are owned and operated by private companies that use trade secrets and copyright law to keep their easily rigged software off limits to public inspection. Nonetheless, American voters have been exposed to many visible problems with their products. Hundreds of elections have been impacted by machine malfunctions, causing voters to be disenfranchised and calling into question the election results.

According to VotersUnite.org, electronic voting machines have:

  • Forced states to hold new elections
  • Added votes not cast by voters
  • Subtracted votes cast by voters
  • Changed voters’ choices on the screen
  • Given voters the wrong ballot
  • Passed pre-election testing and failed on election day  
  • Handed votes to the wrong candidate
  • Reversed election outcomes
  • Broken down, causing long lines during elections
  • Recorded votes incorrectly

Many of these problems could be rectified through manual audits recounts, but direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, such as touchscreens, do not use voter-marked paper ballots. They instead record voter intent in electronic media (though they can be configured to simultaneously print a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, and to print election results after the polls close). If the electronic media are altered contrary to the voter's intent, it may never be discovered, or impossible to correct.

HOW Electronic ballots disenfranchise voters and bring chaos to the polls

They cause long lines, forcing many legally registered voters to leave without being able to cast a vote. This happens when too few machines are provided or the machines are delivered late, fail to start up, or break down. When voters make their selections on paper ballots, voting doesn’t depend on the availability of a machine.

They change voter selections from one candidate to another, with no way for the voter to know if the right candidate was recorded inside the computer’s memory.

They disenfranchise minorities, as shown by the plunge in undervote rates of Native Americans and Hispanics in New Mexico when the state banned DREs and converted to paper ballots counted with optical scan technology.

They make ethnic profiling possible when voters are asked to choose between English and an alternate language, since the machines handle votes differently based on the language chosen.

They confuse and intimidate citizens, who could easily understand and effectively monitor the use of paper ballots. Electronic ballots prevent voters, poll workers, election observers, and even administrators from understanding the recording and counting of votes.

NEWS Headlines Show e-voting Problems

VotersUnite.org documented news headlines over the years to show the persistent problems with electronic voting:

  • Electronic Voting Machines Fail to Record Ballot
  • Suspicious E-Voting Tallies Cannot Be Manually Recounted
  • Tabulation Software Tallies Votes Incorrectly
  • DREs Break Down During Election
  • New Election Required in One Case
  • Electronic Voting Machines Fail to Start Up
  • Smart Card Encoders Fail to Operate Properly and Break Down
  • Confusion Over Ballot Code Numbers, Voters Receive Wrong Ballots
  • Touchscreens Register the Incorrect Choice
  • Ballot Too Large for Touchscreen; Paper Supplement Required
  • Touchscreens Present Incomplete Ballot to Voters
  • New Elections Needed after Electronic Voting Failures
  • “Phantom” Votes Added by Electronic Voting Machines
  • Software Counts to 32,767 and then Counts Backwards
  • Votes Jump to the Opponent on the Screen
  • DREs Present Incorrect Ballots to Voters
  • DREs Present “Phantom” Ballots to Voters
  • Totals Dip into Negative Numbers
  • DREs Pass Pre-Election Testing, Fail on Election Day
  • Programming Errors Give Votes to the Wrong Candidate
  • Voting Machines Present a Default Presidential Candidate
  • DREs Breakdown Cause Long Lines During the Election
  • Some DREs Don't Provide the Accessibility they Promise
  • Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot Demonstrates DRE Recording Error