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Making Every Ballot Count - Bryan Pfaffenberger [View All]

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-02-11 12:24 PM
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Making Every Ballot Count - Bryan Pfaffenberger
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Edited on Sun Jan-02-11 12:45 PM by Wilms

Making Every Ballot Count

Bryan Pfaffenberger
By Charlie Feigenoff (Ph.D., English '83)
Posted September 19, 2008

snip

Viewed historically, this back-to-paper movement is ironic. The first voting machines were introduced in the 1890s specifically to remove paper from the voting process, notes Bryan Pfaffenberger, a historian of technology in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Science, Technology, and Society. With the aid of a $27,000 Scholars Award from the National Science Foundation, Pfaffenberger is studying the neglected history of the voting machine.

In the 1880s, partisan manipulation of party-supplied paper ballots led to the rapid adoption of the Australian ballot system, which provides government-printed paper ballots and booths for marking them in private. But this system soon proved vulnerable to a range of new vote-stealing exploits. In response, Jacob H. Myers, an inventor in upstate New York, developed the first successful mechanical lever voting machine. It was first used in 1892 and by 1960, machines based on Myers design counted two-thirds of the votes cast in the United States.

snip

Although lever machines are vulnerable to certain kinds of fraud, exploits are easily prevented by sound election procedures. Perhaps the most significant benefit of lever machines is that they are immune to systemic exploitation, which could affect hundreds of thousands of machines. In sharp contrast to the way Americans talk about voting machines today, users of the lever machines expressed misgivings only occasionally. The lever voting machinethough lacking an independent audit trailhad done something todays voting technologies have been unable do: it won the confidence of American voters and election officials.

snip

http://oscar.virginia.edu/explorations/x14206.xml



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