Browse Content

Use this page to browse all content from the Voting Technology Project, sorted by last updated.

Election Day Voter Registration in the United States: How One-Step Voting Can Change the Composition of the American Electorate

Working Paper No.: 
5
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Caltech
Stephen Ansolabehere
For most Americans, voting requires two steps. First, an eligible citizen must register in some manner with an appropriate government agency. Second, once registered, the citizen can then cast a ballot on or before election day. The historical record provides examples of voter registration processes as early as 1801 in the state of Massachusetts, followed by Columbia, South Carolina in 1819, the state of Pennsylvania in 1836, and New York City in 1840. After the Civil War, voter registration systems proliferated throughout the nation, especially in large urban areas of the county.

Ballot Design Options

Working Paper No.: 
4
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Caltech
Does ballot design “matter”? Does the design of ballots influence how voters cast their ballots, and thereby affect the outcome of an election? Anecdotal evidence indicates that ballot design may be a very important factor in American elections. Probably the most well-known ballot design question is the now infamous “butterfly” ballot design, from the 2000 Florida election.

A Modular Voting Architecture ("FROGS")

Working Paper No.: 
3
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Ronald Rivest
MIT
David Jefferson
We present a “modular voting architecture” in which “vote generation” is performed separately from “vote casting.”

Residual Votes Attributable to Technology: An Assessment of the Reliability of Existing Voting Technologies

Working Paper No.: 
2
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Voting Technology Project
American elections are conducted using a hodge-podge of different voting technologies: paper ballots, lever machines, punch cards, optically scanned ballots, and electronic machines. And the technologies we use change frequently. Over the last two decades, counties have moved away from paper ballots and lever machines and toward optically scanned ballots and electronic machines. The changes have not occurred from a concerted initiative, but from local experimentation. Some local governments have even opted to go back to the older methods of paper and levers.

19th Century Ballot Reform in California: A Study of the Huntington Library's Political Ephemera Collection

Working Paper No.: 
1
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Melanie Goodrich
Caltech
Ballot reform is an important part of the American political process. During the 1800’s, ballots changed drastically. At the beginning of the century, voters wrote the names of the candidates for whom they wished to vote on a piece of paper and put that piece of paper into the ballot box. Legislation followed that allowed voters to cast professionally printed ballots, which opened the door to political parties providing their supporters with pre-printed ballots to cast. Towards the close of the century, the Australian ballot, also known as the secret ballot, was introduced

About the Voting Technology Project

Established by Caltech President David Baltimore and MIT President Charles Vest in December 2000 to prevent a recurrence of the problems that threatened the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. Since establishment, members of the VTP have studied all aspects of the election process, both in the United States and abroad. VTP faculty, research affiliates, and students have written many working papers, published scores of academic articles and books, and worked on a great array of specific projects.

Voting - What Is, What Could Be

Date Published: 
07/01/2001
Author(s): 
Voting Technology Project
On December 15, 2000, the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a collaborative project to develop new voting technology in order "to precent a recurrence of the problems that threatened the 2000 presidential election." The problems in the 2000 election go well beyond voting equipment. This report assesses the magnitude of the problems, their root causes, and how technology can reduce them.

Blanket primaries a step toward reform

Link to Article: 
Newspaper: 
Pasadena Star News
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Op-Ed
Recently, I have been talking with people about the upcoming primary elections. I've been finding that some are just not interested in participating in California's June primary. A common thread in these conversations is a feeling that choices are limited. Regardless of the individual's partisanship and given that the legislative districts in our area are so heavily gerrymandered to favor one of the two major parties, some think they don't have meaningful choices in the upcoming primary.

Reform: Like shooting fish in a pork barrel

Link to Article: 
Newspaper: 
Pasadena Star News
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Op-Ed
In recent years, I've walked the halls of Congress, meeting with staff members to discuss election reform. But in my visits, I don't get face-to-face access with members of Congress that real lobbyists receive. Lobbyists get better access due to personal connections, campaign contributions and the many other favors they provide to legislators. It's these behind closed doors meetings where the real business in Washington gets conducted, meetings that typical constituents rarely receive. And that's the problem with how business is done today in Washington.

State desperately needs redistricting reform

Link to Article: 
Newspaper: 
Pasadena Star News
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Op-Ed
The other day, a colleague asked me about redistricting reform in California. He had three questions. Why do we need it, how do we do it, and why now? We need to fix how legislative boundaries are drawn in California for a few simple reasons. One reason is that today's districts do not respect local communities, but instead our state is carved into bizarre districts whose primary purpose is to reelect incumbents.

Pages