Magazine article USA TODAY

Machine Flaws Make Voting Difficult

Magazine article USA TODAY

Machine Flaws Make Voting Difficult

Article excerpt

The design of some voting machines may make it needlessly difficult for people to cast ballots on Nov. 5, according to Susan King Roth, associate professor of industrial, interior, and visual communication design, Ohio State University, Columbus. Two studies found that some frequently used mechanisms have shortcomings that frustrate voters, especially those who are shorter than average, elderly, or visually impaired. For example, certain punch card ballots are confusing to voters, while sections of the ballot on mechanical lever voting machines are too high for shorter people to see easily.

In both studies, Roth videotaped people using real voting machines in a mock-election setup, then questioned the participants about their experiences. In the most commonly utilized voting system in the U.S. during the 1992 presidential election, they used a small handheld punch or stylus to make holes corresponding to their votes in a computer card. Subjects complained that they weren't sure which hole to punch to correspond with the candidate or issue they were voting for. They had difficulty reading numbers that were too small and couldn't see the punched holes through the plastic cover to check for errors. …

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