Researchers advocate electronic voting

By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs

10 October 2001 | Electronic and optical scan voting systems did the best job of recording and tabulating votes cast in the 2000 presidential election, while punch card ballots performed the worst, according to a new report by campus researchers.

The findings were released by the Survey Research Center and the Institute of Governmental Studies. The researchers found that among the nation’s 100 largest voting jurisdictions — which served 40 million voters in the 2000 election — electronic and optical scan machines outperformed all other machines, producing fewer overcounted or undercounted votes.

“Counting all the Votes: the Performance of Voting Technology in the United States,” concludes that “concerted efforts should be made to move away from Votomatic-style punch card systems to other, more appropriate ones. In most cases this will mean either optical scan or electronic systems.”

Henry Brady, professor of political science and public policy, directed the study, which was launched in the wake of calls for a recount of Florida votes cast during the Bush-Gore presidential contest. Many Florida counties used punch-card style systems in 2000.

Brady and a team of researchers sorted through presidential election results from 38 states and 2,219 counties, rejecting unreliable data and cross-checking results using sophisticated statistical methods.


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