Many Americans Distrustful of Electronic Voting Machines, Says New FindLaw Survey
EAGAN, Minn., September 7, 2004 -- Call it a "hanging chad" hangover: roughly four in 10 Americans say they are worried about potential problems with electronic voting machines to be used in the November election, according to a new poll by the legal Web site FindLaw® (www.findlaw.com). Forty-two percent of those surveyed are concerned about potential vote tampering in electronic voting machines. Thirty-eight percent say they are worried about the accuracy of the machines.
In 2000, President Bush won Florida's electoral votes by just 537 ballots. The narrow margin set the stage for unprecedented election turmoil, and lawsuits eventually found their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the wake of the 2000 election controversy, many states have enacted legislation to clarify their recount procedures and implement new systems intended to ensure that every vote counts. But these efforts have instead led to further confusion and widening concern over vote tampering and election security.
Roughly one-third of voters nationwide will use touch-screen computer voting machines in the upcoming November election. The machines are controversial because of concerns over testing procedures, security measures to prevent tampering, the accuracy of vote counts, lack of paper trails, the potential for software bugs and vulnerability to computer hackers. Lawsuits have been filed in several states demanding removal or modification of the machines. New electronic voting machines are being installed in several states, including California, Ohio, Maryland, Connecticut and Florida, the site of several major vote tallying controversies in the 2000 Presidential election.
The survey interviewed 1,000 adults nationwide, with results accurate to plus or minus three percent. The FindLaw survey found that concerns about accuracy and vote tampering with electronic voting machines were higher among adults who were younger, those with lower incomes, and minorities. A majority of those with annual incomes of $25,000 or less said they were concerned about possible vote tampering. Fifty percent of non-whites said they were concerned about possible vote tampering.
Overall, 42 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about potential problems with vote tampering in electronic voting machines, while 57 percent said they were not concerned. Thirty-eight percent said they were concerned about the accuracy of electronic voting machines, compared with 61 percent who said they were not.
FindLaw is the most-visited online source of legal information and resources. It contains numerous election resources, including the latest news and copies of legal documents involving electronic voting machine controversies in Maryland, California and elsewhere, and an examination of litigation records of attorneys in the news, including candidates John Edwards and John Kerry, and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. The FindLaw Election Special Coverage is at: http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/lit/election2004/index.html
NOTE TO EDITORS: The national survey used a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, and was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.
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