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The Brennan Center’s Report on Voting Technology Does Not Rate or Endorse Vendors or Their Machines

September 29, 2006

For Immediate Release
Friday, September 29, 2006

Susan Lehman, Director, Communications and Strategy
212 998–6730

The Brennan Center’s Report on Voting Technology Does Not Rate or Endorse Vendors or Their Machines

New York, NY The Machinery of Democracy: Usability of Voting Systems is a comprehensive study that calls attention to potential problems with the usability of new electronic voting technology, and provides recommendations to improve the systems.

We understand that due to statements made by at least one manufacturer of voting machines, there may be some misunderstanding concerning several of the positions taken by the Brennan Center in the Usability Report. In order to assure that the Brennan Center’s positions are understood, we provide the following confirmation of certain aspects of the Usability Report.

The Usability Report does not rate or endorse voting machines.

While the Usability Report contains data about the residual vote rates (or lost vote rates) of various machines, this is only one aspect of one category of usability and is not used by the Report to rate various voting machines.

The Usability Report notes that for at least one type of DRE voting machine, the residual vote rate data are too limited to draw any conclusions regarding residual vote rates. This is because, for the time period covered in the report, this type of machine was only used in seventeen counties in Nevada. Nevada has a unique ballot that reduces undervotes, regardless of the voting system being used. Accordingly, the Usability Report states that the data regarding this type of machine is not directly comparable to that produced by other jurisdictions for other types of machines. Furthermore, in certain states, such as New York, the rules regarding how the ballot is presented do not permit the use of certain types of voting machines, including the type used in Nevada.

A key finding of the Usability Report is that, in general full face DRE Systems produce higher residual vote rates (1.2%) than both scrolling DRE systems (1.0%) and precinct count optical scan systems (0.7%). The report notes that this divergence in terms of lost votes is even greater in low-income communities.

The Brennan Center is concerned that confusion about its Report has arisen and wishes to reiterate that neither The Brennan Center nor its Report endorses any particular voting machine.

For more information regarding the usability of various types of voting machines and to learn more about the residual vote rate, please see The Machinery of Democracy: Usability of Voting Systems.