Voting Technology: The Not-So-Simple ACT of Casting a Ballot

Voting Technology: The Not-So-Simple ACT of Casting a Ballot

by Paul S. Herrnson, Richard G. Niemi, Michael J. Hanmer, Benjamin B. Bederson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

…  See more details below

Overview

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. V oting 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.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] excellent study of usability and voting technology. This study is the most comprehensive analysis of voting machine usability to date, and it offers a new look into how the characteristics of voting machines affect the output of human-voting machine interactions." — Review of Policy Research

"This study of a very important but long neglected facet of elections is original in its scope and methodology. The authors' findings must be taken seriously by those who design voting systems, construct ballot formats, draft election legislation, or administer elections." —Richard G. Smolka, Election Law Journal

"The book is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in researching elections and the legitimacy they confer or not to rulers, as well as for policymakers." — Journal of Politics

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815735649
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
12/28/2007
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Paul DeGregorio
"Well written, well documented, and fascinating. Too little research has been done in the area of voting systems, even though it clearly affects all Americans. Voting Technology is a 'must read' for anyone interested in this important topic."--(Paul DeGregorio, former chairman, U.S. Election Assistance Commission and current chief operating officer of Everybody Counts, Inc.)
Henry Brady
"It seems as if everybody talks about voting technology, but nobody seems to do anything about learning how to improve it-until this new volume. Finally, we have a book that does serious research on voting technology so that we can make it better."--(Henry Brady, University of California-Berkeley)
Ray Martinez
"Voting Technology is an extremely significant book, with findings I have not seen in any other publication. It is easy to read, and the conclusions are compelling. This is exactly the kind of research that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission should be pursuing. Election administrators around the country should read it."--(Ray Martinez, Rice University, former EAC commissioner)
R. Michael Alvarez
"In the aftermath of the 2000 Florida recount, it became clear that academic research on voting technologies had been inadequate. This book pushes the research frontier forward substantially and provides the foundation for a new generation of research on voting technologies and election administration."--(R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology, coauthor of Point, Click, and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting)

Read More

Meet the Author

Paul S. Herrnson is founding director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland. His books include Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington (5th ed., CQ Press, in press). Richard G. Niemi is Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester. 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. 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. Frederick C. Conrad is research associate professor in survey research at both the University of Michigan and University of Maryland. 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.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >