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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 13:35 GMT
Why Americans are shunning e-voting
A lady using an electronic voting machine
Some people have found e-voting confusing and complicated
The BBC World Service's technology programme, Digital Planet has been looking at how many US states are going back to traditional voting methods after serious problems with electronic voting machines.

It has been dubbed "Super Duper Tuesday" - and as the votes of millions of Americans for their choice of who should run in the presidential elections in November are counted, it looks like much of the adding up will be done manually.

State authorities in California have made a last-minute decision to stop using electronic machines, as they have become unreliable and are more open to electoral fraud.

Some Hollywood residents told Digital Planet that if people wanted to cheat, they would do so, regardless of the voting method.

However one resident found that e-voting was a complicated and confusing process, "There are too many options and for the avergae Joe, it's a little too complicated, they need to make it simpler."

Another said: ""Nothing is really one hundred percent safe on the internet, you don't know who is getting what."

More machines, more problems

The issue is not only controversial in California, but nationwide.

Doug Chapin, director of the electiononline.org website which analyses election reform, said that there continues to be a tremendous interest in looking at new ways of how to vote after the disputed elections in 2000.

"The Help America Vote Act in 2000 - which made nearly $4bn available to states and localities to buy new machines or upgrade their old ones - encouraged lots of stares to go out and buy what was then the latest and greatest technology in electronic voting," he said.

But he added that the elections in 2004 saw many high-profile problems with using these new machines.

I don't really think it makes a difference - if someone wants to cheat a vote they will find a way
Hollywood resident
Although some people regarded many of the issues as "teething problems," many of them have not been resolved even up until now.

"Technology has gone wrong in almost every way possible," he said.

"You have inevitable human error - just last week, in the Florida presidential primaries, a lead poll worker accidentally turned off all the machines, which then took a long time to restart.

"In other places you have had screens freeze, power failures due to bad weather and there have also been allegations of 'vote flipping', where people are trying to press the screen to vote for one candidate and the machine wants to keep registering votes for another".

However, an investigation by Digital Planet to the electoral commission in the Indian capital Delhi recently found that electronic voting has been working very successfully.

So why is America struggling to get it right?

Doug Chapin argues that the main problem with US elections is that they can be decided by an unusually slim majority, and are often bitterly contested.

"A tiny number of votes can have a huge impact," he said.

"In some ways that has complicated efforts to really think through what is the best system now but not for the medium to long term."

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SEE ALSO
US votes on crucial Super Tuesday
05 Feb 08 |  Americas
In pictures: Super Tuesday
05 Feb 08 |  In Pictures
At-a-glance: Super Tuesday
05 Feb 08 |  Americas

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