Electionline.org has issued a preliminary report assessing the performance of voting technology and administration in the recent election, which election law expert Rick Hasen calls “required reading.” The upshot: we didn’t have the meltdown that I’d worried about. But the report describes how we need to prepare for new problems and not only for those that arose in prior elections. Any IT professional could tell you that, but it is not the operating principle in election administration. In an interview on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, Doug Chapin, Electionline’s director, went further, noting that the widespread problems they documented may have been minor only because the localities where irregularities happened were not, by and large, the same ones that had close races. The problems don’t really come into focus unless the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory, he said. We may not be so fortunate in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the U.S National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has an important advisory role in standard-setting under the Help America Vote Act, has issued a report in the process of preparing a formal recommendation against any electronic voting system which lacks a software-independent audit trail.