Plans to use electronic voting machines in Tuesday’s presidential election appear to be largely unaltered in states that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Despite widespread power outages and other hurricane related damage, election officials in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware remained confident that their electronic voting machines would be up and running on Election Day.
The four states are among 17 in the nation where voters will use paperless Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to cast their ballots. Of these states, New Jersey, Delaware and five others will use paperless machines statewide. All ballots cast in these states will be on DREs that support no paper trail. The other states, which include Texas, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania, will use a mix of paper ballots and DRE voting systems that are paperless.
Election watchdog groups such as Verified Voting and Common Cause have expressed concern over the use of paperless DREs because they say votes cast using such machines are much harder to audit compared with paper ballots. The widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy heightened these concerns and prompted some to wonder what would happen if power was not restored in time for the elections in these states.