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The Machinery of Democracy

This report is the final product of the first compre­hens­ive, empir­ical analysis of elec­tronic voting systems in the United States. It comes after nearly two years of study with many of the nations lead­ing academ­ics, elec­tion offi­cials, econom­ists, and secur­ity, usab­il­ity and access­ib­il­ity experts.

Up until this point, there has been surpris­ingly little empir­ical study of voting systems in the areas of secur­ity, access­ib­il­ity, usab­il­ity, and cost. The result is that juris­dic­tions make purchas­ing decisions and adopt laws and proced­ures that have little to do with their over­all goals.

The Bren­nan Center analysis finds that there is not yet any perfect voting system or set of proced­ures. One system might be more afford­able, but less access­ible to members of the disabled community; certain elec­tion proced­ures might make the systems easier to use, but they comprom­ise secur­ity. Elec­tion offi­cials and community members should be aware of the trade-offs when choos­ing one voting system or set of proced­ures over another, and they should know how to improve the system they choose.

Included in this full report is an exec­ut­ive summary of the Bren­nan Centers analysis of voting system secur­ityvoting system usab­il­ity, as well as voting system access­ib­il­ity and cost.

The Bren­nan Center analysis of cost is in part based upon a review of voting system contracts provided by juris­dic­tions around the coun­try and a cost calcu­lator [no longer avail­able]. The cost calcu­lator and contracts should assist juris­dic­tions in determ­in­ing the initial on ongo­ing costs of vari­ous voting systems.

Click here to down­load PDF of complete report

About the Project Manager

Lawrence Norden is the project director for the Voting Tech­no­logy Assess­ment Project. As Coun­sel at the Bren­nan Center, Mr. Norden works in the areas of voting systems, voting rights and govern­ment account­ab­il­ity. In addi­tion to these respons­ib­il­it­ies, he edits and writes for the Bren­nan Center’s blog on New York State, ReformNY. Mr. Norden is the lead author of author of The Machinery of Demo­cracy: Protect­ing Elec­tions in an Elec­tronic World (Academy Chicago Press) and a contrib­utor to the Encyc­lo­pe­dia of Amer­ican Civil Liber­ties (Rout­ledge 2007). He is a gradu­ate of the Univer­sity of Chicago and New York Univer­sity School of Law. Before join­ing the Bren­nan Center, Mr. Norden was in private prac­tice, concen­trat­ing in commer­ical litig­a­tion, tech­no­logy and bank­ruptcy law.