Making Reporting About Voting Part of the Political Beat

Seibel, Mark
March 2004
Nieman Reports;Spring2004, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p24
This article offers insights on the role of political journalists in tracking issues and problems related to the balloting systems in the U.S. The punch card balloting is viewed as a flawed technology in the U.S. Prior to November 7, 2000, there have been questions about the accuracy of punch card balloting since the technology was introduced in the 1960s. A federal report even had warned of the problems, and if several reporters and journalists had taken action, they would have known that some election officials in South Florida had been pushing for the money to replace the system, but were regularly turned down by elected representatives. By 2004, the punch card ballot system is already cancelled in Florida, California, Georgia and Maryland. Maryland and Georgia have statewide computer voting systems, as do most of the largest cities in Florida. And while punch cards are still being used in at least parts of 22 states, according to the Election Reform Information Project, a tracking effort sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts through the University of Richmond, steps are being taken to upgrade balloting systems throughout the country. However, it turns out the touch-screen voting systems that are replacing punch cards may also be prone to error or tampering.


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