State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: HAVA

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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Optical Scanners, Punch Cards, and Levers: New York City’s Continuing War Against the Machines

http://electls.blogs.wm.edu/files/2010/11/terminator.jpg
Photo taken at New York’s 32nd Precinct. Voters had some difficulty with New York’s new “Terminator” voting machines.

In the fallout of the 2000 U.S.  Presidential Election, the U.S. Congress and President Bush passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”) to prevent a recurrence of the voter confusion and vote invalidation that occurred in that election.  Among its provisions, HAVA required states to create electronic voter registration lists, implement stricter voter identification standards, and transition to modern electronic voting machines.  These changes were met with resistance from voting rights advocates and state officials; nevertheless the number of HAVA compliant localities continues to increase.  New York remained among the states that did not implement key provisions of HAVA, even in the face of challenges from the U.S. Justice Department. Continue reading

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