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Why Are Voting Machines Used?

Election Intergrity for America

Voting machines have been used in American elections for several reasons:

  1. Efficiency: As the number of voters and the complexity of ballots have increased, manually counting each vote has become time-consuming and labor-intensive. Voting machines can tally results much more quickly than human counters.

  2. Accuracy: Manual counting is prone to human error, and voting machines, when properly calibrated and functioning, can ensure that every vote is counted accurately. Of course, this is contingent on the machines being reliable and not malfunctioning.

  3. Standardization: Voting machines can provide a standardized way of casting and counting votes, especially important in larger jurisdictions or areas with many voting precincts.

  4. Accessibility: Modern electronic voting machines can be designed to be more accessible to people with disabilities. They might include features such as audio instructions, tactile controls, or large print to cater to a wider range of voters.

  5. Reduced Invalid Votes: Before the advent of electronic voting systems, many votes were discarded because of mistakes in marking paper ballots, such as over-voting (voting for more candidates than allowed). Voting machines can be designed to prevent or reduce these kinds of mistakes, by, for example, alerting voters to errors before they submit their ballots.

  6. Cost: While the initial investment in voting machines can be high, over the long term, they might result in cost savings, given reduced printing costs, fewer man-hours needed for vote counting, and less need for physical storage of paper ballots.

  7. Audit and Recount Capabilities: Some voting machines produce a verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) that can be used to check the electronic results. This can increase confidence in election outcomes and facilitate recounts when necessary.

However, it's important to note that the use of voting machines has not been without controversy. Concerns about the security, reliability, and potential tampering of these machines have been raised. Some argue for the return to paper ballots or the use of hybrid systems that combine electronic voting with a verifiable paper trail to ensure the integrity of elections.

Ultimately, the goal in any election system is to ensure that the process is transparent, secure, and accurate, and that every eligible citizen has an opportunity to vote and have that vote counted correctly.

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