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Undervoting and Overvoting in the 2002
and 2006 Florida Gubernatorial Elections

Are Touchscreens the Solution?

By: Javed Khan
Mentor: Dr. Terri Fine

Abstract

In a participatory democracy where every vote counts, voters expect that every vote will be counted. The voting machine is the instrument with which the voting public records its intent and appoints its representatives. In order for the democratic process to function, voting machines must properly function.

Do electronic voting systems that rely on touchscreens work better at reducing undervote and overvote counts than optical scan systems? To answer this question, an analysis of undervote and overvote counts in the 2002 and 2006 Florida Gubernatorial elections was conducted. The undervote and overvote counts across county, voting system, system manufacturer, and election cycle were compared. Mean comparison analyses suggest that counties that primarily used touchscreen technology on Election Day had lower voter error rates than counties using optical scan technology in the 2006 election. Touchscreen technology is associated with less overvoting. Overall, voter error rates were found to be higher in the 2006 election than in the 2002 election for optical scan ballots but not for touchscreen systems.

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