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Research Report

Is America Ready to Vote?

Published: October 16, 2008

On November 4, 2008 voting systems will fail somewhere in the United States in one or more jurisdictions in the country. Unfortunately, we don’t know where. For this reason, it is imperative that every state prepare for system failures. We urge each state to take steps necessary to insure that inevitable voting machine problems do not undermine either the individual right to vote, or our ability to accurately count each vote cast.

Is America Ready to Vote? State Preparations for Voting Machine Problems in 2008 asks what steps each state has put into place to insure against disenfranchisement in the event of election system failures. These might include broken machines, damaged voting system cartridges, software glitches, misprogrammed tally servers, and a range of other likely troubles.

This report does not look at the steps that all states should take to minimize risk of mechanical failures. (most notably, we do not consider pre-election testing which helps insure that machines work properly. This subject has been explored by experts in the recent past (see links: here and here).

Rather, the report assumes that, even with the best voting protocols, occasional machine failures are inevitable. 

The report looks at the laws, regulations and procedures of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in four key areas related to their preparedness for voting system failure.