In the past years, during the existence of the colonial America, those eligible to vote cast their votes by putting balls or beans in a tin. Paper ballots were first used in the 1800s by political parties who supplied voters with different ballot paper colors differentiating politicians from each other. The ballot paper was later developed to allow voters to tick their best candidate among other contesters as outlined in the ballot paper which they then placed in a ballot box. In the late 18th century, a voting machine was set on the development, and that was the advent of the electronic voting. Therefore, this paper seeks to discuss electronic voting machines available extending to the issue of how efficient the machines are as far as security and operation are concerned.
Voting machines comprise of various mechanical devices that are used to record votes. These machines are categorical regarding the levels of security, efficiency, accuracy, and usability. They operate by using mechanical levers, direct electronic recording optical scanning, and lastly using punch cards. Jacob H. Myers developed the first operational voting machine. It was employed in the New York City of Lockport in 1892.It was a lever machine. The device was a direct system used to tabulate and count votes. By 1930, lever machines were in use in almost every town. The lever machine was voter enabled: the voter pulled a lever that closed the private curtain. He/she pulled down pointers next to his/ her choices to mark his/ her favorite candidate. After voting, the arrows would move counter wheels inside the machine. The computer reset every time a curtain lever was raised to record the next voter. With the end of the voting process, the counter wheel showed the number of votes cast for each candidate.
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Martin A. Coyle developed the voting machine that used a computer punch card. Georgia was the first state to apply the punch card system in their elections. Later, the International Business Machines who were computer giants by then bought the rights to manufacture the Votomatic machines. The 1996 presidential elections were the first using this system. In its procedure, the voters marked their choices by punching a hole in a card that had numbers that correspond to the ballot issues and the candidate's name on a separate booklet. After voting, the voter takes the voting card out from the holder. The ballots are then counted using the card counter in the station or tabulated in a central place by the readers and computerized counting machines. The Votomatic was light unlike the lever machine, and it was relatively cheap. Besides, the likelihood of election rigging using the Votomatic was minimal because the votes were counted by physical objective machines. The system further allowed recounting of votes in case a candidate was dissatisfied with the outcome of the results. This machine invoked the new era of computerized voting.
McKay, Ziebold, and Kirby et al. developed the direct recording electronic voting machine. It comprised of the Video Voter terminals controlled by Video Voter Data Center. This system was the first direct voting system that was fist employed in Streamwood in Illinois during their 1975 elections. The voters simply vote by touching buttons where they enter their choices into the machine. The computer tallies the results automatically, and they can be ready in about half an hour after voting. They operate almost like the automatic teller machines in the banks. They certainly reduce the chances of vote rigging because the machines count the votes using its electronic memory.
In the United States today, voting equipment varies from state to state. There are those who use traditional ballot papers and those who vote by mail. The good example of the last is the state of Colorado whose inhabitants use mail. This is because they doubt the integrity of the old machines which have been in use for a long time without replacement. Besides, the electronic voting devices often manifest system failure and system fraud (Douglas 319). Today, the machines in use include the punch cards, mechanical lever machines, and other electronic devices. Paper ballots are rare to use (Roth 1). There are some tools adopted in the process of voting. The one of them is the Optic Scan Paper Ballot system. The voters mark the votes filling a box or oval shape on the paper ballot which is later scanned in the polling place into the computer. These systems are open to fraud during tabulation. In case one gets an unmarked ballot paper, it can be used to mark the choice hence tampering with the results (Wallach). Companies such as the Premier Election Solutions and the Sequoia Voting System manufacture the machine. Most states including Nevada and California use this system of voting. Secondly, the voters use the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) System that functions almost the same as the old one. The DRE machines are equally not secure because a programmer can insert a self-erasing code that can erase voters’ information and tamper with the results. Diebold Corporation is one of the manufacturers of the DRE machines. The use of DRE in California dates back to early 1999 (Arnold 19). Almost every state uses this system that also extends to outside nations such as India.
The history of voting systems and machinery employed in the USA has changed with time. In the past years, people employed the system of balls and beans in a tin or, at times, shouting their preferred candidate; the system was prone to fraud. In the attempt to solve the issue, they developed the voting machines that were fair in the fight against fraud. However, today the machines are still faulty because there is a possibility of hackers and programmers changing the results outcomes.