State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: ADA

How reliable are Virginia’s voting machines?

By: Venu Katta

It may be tempting to think that the United States, the land of smartphones and supercomputers, would have commensurate levels of technology when it came to voting. Dispelling this, sadly, does not require us to look very far. Meet the WINVote touchscreen voting machine.

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Created and implemented in the early-2000s (and without any form of update since 2004), the WINVote machine is essentially a glorified laptop running Windows XP that also features a touch display. Its USB ports are physically unprotected, the wireless encryption key is set to “a-b-c-d-e,” the administrator password to access the machine (which is unchangeable) is “admin,” and there exists no auditable paper trail after an individual has voted. Oh, and it’s prone to crash. A lot. All of these, among other concerns, combined to lead security experts to term it “the worst voting machine in the U.S.”

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A Balancing Act: Maryland’s Online Ballot Marking Tool – An Improvement for Disabled Voters or a Threat to Election Integrity?

By Caitlin Whalan

On Election Day, a voter arrives at her designated polling place, the elementary school located a few miles from her home. Her husband helps her from the car and escorts her in, where there are lines of people anxiously waiting to cast their vote. Upon her arrival, she requests a voting machine with non-visual access. After waiting an hour and a half, a voting machine with non-visual access is finally available, and it is now her turn to vote. She slowly makes her way to the voting machine, using her cane to guide her. Once she is in front of the voting machine, the audio prompts begin, but the words get lost in the background noise, ricocheting from the bare gymnasium floor. She strains to hear the audio prompts emanating from the voting machine. She calls out for a poll worker to help replay the audio prompts. The poll worker comes over to her, but the poll worker is not well trained in accessibility features of the voting machine. After a few tries, he is able to replay the audio prompts, but cannot make them any louder. This time, she concentrates harder, trying to grasp every word of the audio prompt. Still, the noises of gymnasium roar like a freight train in the background. After another strained attempt, she finally completes her ballot, but leaves the gymnasium frustrated and unsure if she cast her vote the way she intended. Continue reading

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