You touch it, you voted for it
American City Business Journal 21 October 2004
A potential user-interface problem has surfaced with the touch-screen voting machines being used during early voting in San Antonio. The problem also could affect voters nationwide.
Bexar County Elections Administrator Clifford Borofsky confirms that the problem is real, but he insists it is a minor issue.
A San Antonio Business Journal reader brought the problem to the attention of the newspaper after he claims his vote was registered for the wrong candidate. He said the bad vote was cast because he inadvertently rested his hand on the screen of the voting kiosk while using his other hand to vote.
"The machine registered the vote from my thumb when I rested my hand on the screen to vote," the reader claims.
The reader says he caught his error on the review screen before finalizing his vote, but he questions whether everyone especially new voters would do the same.
Borofsky says his office has received only two reports in 60,000 votes cast of votes being registered by individuals inadvertently resting their hand on the voting screen. However, there is no way to know how many people made the mistake without knowing it.
"That's what the review screen is for," Borofsky says, adding that it is the fail-safe built into the system to guard against inadvertent votes.
However, Borofsky does concede that it would be good to make voters aware of the problem, "especially people foreign to the voting process."
Currently, there are no warning signs on the machines or in the polling places to make voters aware of the hyper-sensitivity of the touch-screen voting machines, he says.
For early voting, Borofsky says Bexar County is employing some 200 electronic machines made by Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software. He adds that Canton, Ohio-based Diebolt Inc. also makes a similar touch-screen voting system. Both companies are major suppliers of electronic voting systems for the 2004 election.