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RE: Maryland Article
I'd like to hear Sue's take on that as well, but your question is at
least partially answered by the next sentence. "Most of those problems,
the study reported, involved card readers used to activate the
machines". I've always considered the card readers the weakest link in
our system, myself.
I would like to see their data which shows that one-third of voters not
having college education needed assistance from poll workers. I don't
necessarily doubt this, depending on how "assistance" is defined and
what questions the exit pollers asked and how they were asked. It sure
does sound high though. It would be incredibly valuable to know the
"top five" issues the voters needed help with. It would also be
interesting to see comparative stats. For all I know one-third of
non-college graduates require assistance with paper ballot.
Sue, if you can get a copy of the actual UoM study and post that, it
might make an interesting read. Getting the Washington Post filtered
prospective probably doesn't do the study justice. In particular, most
of the reporter's conclusions regarding the 3% were illogical.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
On Behalf Of Steve Knecht
Sent: Friday, December 13, 2002 11:24 AM
Subject: RE: Maryland Article
Sue, what does this 3% number reflect?
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On
Behalf Of Sue Page
Sent: Friday, December 13, 2002 3:10 AM
Subject: Maryland Article
The following article is from the Washington Post. The article was
in three different "regional" editions of the paper, and had the
Some Voters Flustered by Computers
Computers Flustered Some Voters, Study Finds
Evaluating The Results Of Bits, Bytes For Ballots
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 12, 2002; Page AA03
When the long lines began to snake out of the polling station in the
Montgomery County senior community of Leisure World, County Council
Steven A. Silverman wondered if elderly voters were having trouble with
state's new computerized voting machines.
"There were many people there who told me they were not computer
that they don't even use ATMs," Silverman (D-At Large) said.
Silverman's hunch now appears to be supported by a comprehensive study
voters' first brush with computerized voting machines, used for the
time in four Maryland counties: Montgomery, Prince George's, Dorchester
Exit polling by University of Maryland researchers found that one-third
voters who lacked a college education needed help to use the machines;
one-quarter of those who said they had infrequently used computers
help with the machines; and about one-sixth of all voters said they got
assistance from election judges.
"What this signals is that there are real privacy issues that need to be
dealt with when voters are using the computerized machines, and there
serious usability issues that are extremely important," said Paul
who heads the University of Maryland's Center for American Politics and
Citizenship and was co-director of the study.
The General Assembly decided last year to overhaul Maryland's voting
in response to the Florida ballot count that delayed the results of the
presidential election for weeks.
State budget officials decided to replace outdated systems in
Prince George's, Allegany and Dorchester counties for this year's
and to install computerized voting machines statewide by 2006.
The four counties and the state split the $15 million cost of the new
AccuVote-TS system, manufactured by Global/Diebold Election Systems in
Although the machines' inaugural run was relatively smooth in the other
counties, confusion reigned in Montgomery during the September
Several polling places opened late because the equipment was not set up.
Inaccurate results were posted on the county Web site, while judges
struggled through complicated forms and tabulations.
Instead of sending results by modem, poll workers had to drive computer
disks across the county to the elections board in Rockville and faced
lines upon arrival. And nearly 100 machines were delivered whole to the
county board by frustrated poll workers.
The University of Maryland study, however, focused on the ease of voter
and tried to gauge how voters responded to the new machines.
In addition to the voters who needed help to fill out their ballots, the
study found that a small percentage of the machines -- about 3 percent
malfunctioned in some manner.
Most of those problems, the study reported, involved card readers used
activate the machines. Election judges in some precincts addressed the
problem by inserting the card for voters. Some voters also reported
navigating from screen to screen, especially in the "ballot review"
Herrnson said that although 3 percent sounds like a small figure,
2000 presidential election debacle was a reminder that perfection should
"In several House races in Maryland, there was voter turnout of 200,000,
in those cases, 3 percent starts to sound like a pretty big number," he
Herrnson said he witnessed some of the trouble voters were having when
went to the polls in his hometown of Hyattsville.
"After I voted, I sat down and watched as people raised their hand while
they were voting to ask for help," he said.
He said the study recently was submitted to the state Board of Elections
review, and he hopes that as the machines become more common, the board
devote more time to educating the public about how to use them.
Margaret Jurgensen, election director for Montgomery County, said she
the machines to be popular with voters and was pleased with the initial
experience. She said her staff will continue to emphasize training of
workers as well as programs to educate voters on the new machines. "This
the first year this has been deployed," she said. "There's always going
be a learning curve."
State board officials could not be reached to comment on the study, but
Election Day last month, they defended the performance of the new
saying that a few glitches should be expected with a new product.
And in Montgomery County, although some voters had trouble, the problems
were far from universal.
"It was wonderful, and I'm not even computer literate," Winnie Soltz,
told a reporter. The Gaithersburg substitute teacher had just cast her
ballot, without any difficulty at all.
(Note that on election day, we saw the long lines in Leisure World. We
tried in vain to get Montgomery County to deploy 10 more of their 60
units to this location. Doing so would have reduced the long lines,
this article may have been different.
On the flip side - because of lines in some precincts, Montgomery County
will be purchasing additional units - maybe as many as 1,000. Works for