Date Published: 2011-04-16
Thad E. Hall, University of Utah, Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project
Kathleen Moore, University of Utah
In the year after the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida, there was a sharp focus by many organizations, commissions, and interest groups to determine how to address the problems associated with ensuring that the events of November 2000 did not occur again (e.g., Carter and Ford 2001; VTP 2001). Not surprisingly, the discussion of these entities focused strongly around two important issues. First, there was a sharp focus on the issues related to voting technologies. Given that the difficulty, if not impossibility, of determining how to count certain ballots and the intent of the voter in marking such ballots, determining how to design a voting system that addressed this problem so that it would not occur again seemed paramount.
Second, it was also clear, based on the events in Florida and in other states, that many voters had never been able to get to the point of being able to mark – or mismark! – a ballot because problems with the voter registration system had not allowed them to be authenticated as valid voters. By focusing on addressing problems related to voting technology and voter registration, election reform in 2001 and 2002 attempted to address to technologies used in voting – the way people vote – and the processes that were used to address voting issues, such as allowing provisional voting when voter registration errors occurred. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) focused most of its funding and reforms on modernizing voter registration systems by creating statewide voter registration systems and procedures for addressing problems with voter registration through provisional voting requirement and on modernizing voting systems by banning punch card voting in federal elections and requiring the adoption of new voting systems that were auditable and provided users with feedback regarding any errors they might have made in voting.