When early voting for the District primary election starts on Monday voters will primarily be using new electronic voting machines. The new systems will provide a solution for a major problem that has followed electronic voting: allowing voters to verify and validate their choices.
In other local districts, including Virginia, voting machines capture voter choices but provide no way for the voter to be sure that their selection is what was stored in the system. The new machines in use in the District provide a visible paper trail that a voter can see and verify that their selection is recorded properly.
It remains to be seen whether other issues have been addressed. A 2008 report authored in part by the University of Maryland stated simply “Recent history is clear: the election problem most likely to tilt a close race is not security, but the inability of voters to cast their ballots the way they intended” and blamed ballot layout and design – both on touch-screens and paper – for voter difficulty.
If you’d like to determine for yourself how usable these machines are before you vote you can come to one of the two demos happening before Monday – one is tonight at the Josephine Butler Center (2437 15th Street, NW, 20009) from 6:30 to 8 – or one of several happening after early voting begins.