Voting Machine Breakdowns

In some states during past elections, voting machines have broken down during the voting process. This may be due to machine or printer malfunction, either on old or new machines, or software of an inferior quality. If a problem arises, what can you do?


Tell the poll worker about the broken machine and ask them to take it out of service. Then ask for a paper ballot if they are available at the poll. If no paper ballots are available, then request a new machine for casting your vote.

Tip: Paper ballots are generally considered more secure and reliable, as they can be recounted.

If you vote by paper ballot there are some common sense guidelines for all ballots:

* No stray marks on ballot
* Mark firmly on ballot
* Fill in bubbles completely
* If you are connecting lines or arrows on your ballot – mark it completely
* Leave no bit of paper hanging off the back of the ballot

Not Enough Machines at the Poll Location

This was the case in Ohio in the 2004 election and in Maryland last week. Too few machines resulted in long lines often found in less affluent areas. Not fun!

Recommendation: If you have heard of any past problems with machines, or long lines in your area, you can choose to vote absentee. Please refer to the section on absentee ballots for your state's deadline date for registering absentee. You may also want to read about the pros and cons of absentee ballots