[E-voting] numbers of machines

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Mon Nov 29 00:02:34 GMT 2004

Only now, as a result of reading detailed accounts of the USA election, do 
I realise the impact of having enough machines in all the polling 
districts.  Before, in discussions on this e-group about the no. of 
e-voting machines needed for Irish elections, I was thinking along the 
lines of customer convenience  (e.g., better to wait 10 mins. than to wait 
20 min.).  After reading numerous accounts of too-few machines in poor 
black polling districts, and plenty of machines in next-door white 
higher-income polling districts, and the impact that has on voters, I now 
see this issue differently.  Number and distribution of e-voting machines 
is a critical factor that can be used to manipulate an election.   Since 
e-voting machines are expensive it's much more likely they'd be scarce, and 
then the scarcity can be arranged to be more in some areas than in others.

Previously I was embarrassed that I had never voted in the USA.  The fact 
is, I tried to vote in two elections, both times while a student in 
college.  On each occasion I stood in a line for over two hours and finally 
left without voting because I had to be at  one-to-one coaching sessions 
and rehearsals that couldn't be rescheduled.

Only now do I understand how the distribution of voting booths (and 
resulting long lines in some places) can be used as a deliberate election 
tactic to effectively prevent voters from voting in target polling 
districts.  (In my case, I was at a relatively liberal college campus in a 
generally conservative state.  While I can't be sure that this was a 
deliberate tactic without studying the machine distribution, the point is, 
it never occurred to me to think about this as a potential tactic.)

Ironically, with this kind of tactic, no amount of audit trail will solve 
the problem.


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