Sometimes, a few votes make a huge difference. Just ask Rick Santorum. In January, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses, but, because of vote counting and tabulation errors, Mitt Romney was declared the winner. In the two weeks before the error became clear, Romney’s campaign gained momentum, while Santorum’s withered. Unfortunately, the same problem – or worse – could easily occur in Massachusetts. This year, voters will choose the president, and control of the US Senate may come down to the race shaping up between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.
How will voters know their votes will be counted accurately? Massachusetts voters cast paper ballots. This is a good foundation for an election system, since the paper ballots form an “audit trail” that can be examined (and if necessary, recounted). In almost all cities and towns in the state, those ballots are slid into machines that read the ballots and total up all the votes at each polling place. The machines are reprogrammed for every election, but only 50 to 75 ballots are used to check the new programming, even though 1,000 ballots or more are likely to be put into each voting machine on Election Day. Votes from each location are then brought together and tabulated. In both steps of the process, there is the possibility of significant error.
Full Article: Protecting your vote – Boston.com.