You are viewing an obsolete version of the DU website which is no longer supported by the Administrators. Visit The New DU.
Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

Making Every Ballot Count - Bryan Pfaffenberger [View All]

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Election Reform Donate to DU
Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-02-11 01:24 PM
Original message
Making Every Ballot Count - Bryan Pfaffenberger
Advertisements [?]
Edited on Sun Jan-02-11 01:45 PM by Wilms

Making Every Ballot Count

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


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.


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.


Refresh | +2 Recommendations Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top

Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Election Reform Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC