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Report: Optical Scanning Best for Voting

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2001
On Dec. 15, 2000, two days after resolution of the US presidential election crisis, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge announced the establishment of a study intended to determine what went wrong and to suggest ways to prevent a recurrence. Seven months later, the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project released its findings, including a recommendation that voting technologies be replaced with optical scanners.

techBestThe researchers in the study estimated that up to 6 million votes for President in 2000, or approximately 6 percent of the total cast, were lost to error. Punch cards and direct-recording electronic voting machines were found to have the highest rate of error in the last four presidential elections. Hand-counted and optically scanned paper balloting had the lowest rate of unmarked, uncounted and spoiled votes.

They also calculated that 1.5 million votes lost to error would be recovered if punch cards, lever machines and electronic systems were replaced with optical scanning systems. They estimated that it would take $200 million per year for 15 to 20 years to complete the recommended replacements.

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