How equipped is your state to handle voting machine errors? Chances are, not overly prepared. Apparently just five states—Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin—are “exceptionally well-prepared” to deal with voting machine problems and breakdowns, according to a new study released Wednesday by Common Cause in conjunction with the Verified Voting Foundation and the Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic. And six states are underprepared, said the study: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. “Recent election history reminds us that equipment does fail and votes will be lost without key protections,” Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, said in a statement. “We’re dependent on complex electronic voting systems that must be surrounded by robust procedures to safeguard votes and verify results if we are to avoid known and unknown risks of election failure. Do-overs are never an acceptable part of an election plan. Fair elections are at the heart of our democracy, yet many states are not yet prepared to survive voting system failures that could change results.” With expected close elections in many of the unprepared states, voting errors could have a significant impact on the 2012 results.
The study surveyed voting equipment in all 50 states—as it did for a 2008 study of voting machine error preparedness—and ranked states based on current best practices in use in the U.S. The groups’ aim is to identify and highlight voting machine preparedness ahead of the election and recommend changes that could help combat potential voter disenfranchisement. “Vigilance will help ensure that machinery-related problems do not interfere with the right of eligible citizens to vote, or imperil the accuracy of the vote count,” the study states.