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Voting difficulties hung over America's presidential election in 2000 like a dark cloud. Hanging chads, a butterfly ballot, and the Supreme Court remain the most vivid memories of that political donnybrook. Passage of 2002's Help America Vote Act sparked further interest in the physical process of casting a ballot, yet several recent contests still produced confusion at the polls. A solution to at least some of those problems may be found in new technology, but such innovations carry their own concerns and questions. Voting Technology is the first book to investigate in a scientific and authoritative manner how voters respond to the new equipment. The authors --an interdisciplinary group of experts in American elections, political behavior, human-computer interaction, and human factors psychology --assess five commercially available voting systems, each one representing a specific class based on shared design principles, as well as a prototype system not currently available. They evaluate the systems against different criteria (including ease of use, speed, and accuracy) using field experiments, laboratory experiments, and expert reviews. The results reveal the good and bad about the new systems, including specific features that contribute to clarity, confusion, or error. Going beyond the concern with spoiled ballots, they determine whether voters actually cast their ballots for the candidates they intended to support. They address fundamental questions of whether voters like and trust the equipment and whether the various systems are equally usable by all voters. Their research also opens up an entirely new line of inquiry by asking about the interaction between ballot format and voter behavior. The concluding chapter pulls together best practices that will guide manufacturers of voting systems, ballot designers, election officials, political observers, and of course, voters. In a political system based on free exercise of personal choice, the least we can do is make sure our choices are being accurately recorded and counted.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780815735632
ISBN-10: 0815735634
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 15mm)
Pages: 215
Imprint: Brookings Institution
Publisher: Brookings Institution
Publish Date: 1-Jul-2007
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Paul S. Herrnson

Paul S. Herrnson is founding director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland, USA. His books include Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington, D.C., USA (5th ed., CQ Press, in press). Richard G. Niemi is Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester, New York, USA. His previous works include Vital Statistics on American Politics 2005-06 , with Harold Stanley (CQ Press, 2005). Michael J. Hanmer is assistant professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, USA. He has published in the area of election reform. Benjamin B. Bederson is associate professor of computer science and director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland, USA. Frederick C. Conrad is research associate professor in survey research at both the University of Michigan and University of Maryland, USA. Michael W. Traugott is professor of communication studies and senior research scientist in the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

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