June 20, 2006 — Utah, along with many other states across the nation, will be employing new voting technologies in this year’s primary elections. But, instead of punching ballot cards, registered Utah voters will encounter new touchscreen voting equipment.
In Utah, the primary election will be held on Tuesday, June 27. Early voting began last Tuesday, June 13, and runs through Friday, June 23.
“The goal is that these machines will be more accurate,” notes Thad Hall, a nationally recognized voting expert and assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah. Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, all precincts are required to have an accessible voting machine, Hall notes. “But this will be the first time voters and poll workers will be interacting with them. The equipment should be pretty easy, but one of the key issues will be how much voter education and poll worker training has been done to help voters interact with the systems effectively.”
Says Hall: “Primary elections will give people a chance to ‘test drive” the new voting machines. Also, the fact that voters will be casting ballots within parties, not across party lines, should make for easier voting with the new systems.”
Hall is available for comment and analysis on the first primary elections using electronic voting technologies. He can be reached at 801-455-9427, 801-585-7344 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on early voting and an online demonstration of the new voting equipment for Utah can be found at www.clerk.slco.org.
A researcher of methods used to cast votes in U.S. elections-including electronic voting technologies, such as touch screen and optical scan machines, Hall was commissioned by the U. S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Standards Board and its Board of Advisors in Washington, D.C to research best practices in vote counting and recounting in local and federal elections. His findings will be complete by the end of the summer.
Hall’s research team on this project consists of Election Data Services, led by Kimball Brace, California Institute of Technology’s R. Michael Alvarez, co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, and electionline.org, a non-profit organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, led by Doug Chapin.
About Thad Hall
Thad Hall is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah where he teaches courses in public policy and administration. He is on staff at the University’s Center for Public Policy and Administration and the Institute for Public and International Affairs. Hall’s primary research focus is on the administration of elections, the implementation of voting technologies and public policy. He is the author of Authorizing Policy (2004, Ohio State University Press), a book investigating congressional policymaking. Hall co-authored Point, Click, and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting (2004, Brookings Institute Press) with R. Michael Alvarez. Currently they are writing a book examining electronic voting for Princeton University Press, as well as editing a book on detecting and preventing election fraud. Hall is co-founder and regular contributor to Election Updates (http://electionupdates.caltech.edu/blog.html), a widely read weblog on election reform and voting technology. Hall is also a collaborator with the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Utah in 2004, Hall served as Program Officer for The Century Foundation in Washington, D.C. where he studied issues associated with election reform and the Internet. In 2001, he served on the professional staff of the National Committee on Federal Election Reform. He has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about elections in the aftermath of a terrorist event, and before the EAC regarding the need for national standards for voter registration databases. Hall’s complete curriculum vita can be found at http://www.poli-sci.utah.edu/pdf/cv/hall_cv.pdf.