Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
The joint Caltech/MIT report recommends two immediate reforms that could reduce lost votes by 50 percent in 2004: installing voting machines that scan paper ballots at the precinct and making voter registration data available at polling places.
The report's key recommendations include:
- Optical scanning is the most reliable method of voting. Both punch cards and lever machines should be done away with.
- Internet voting is not a near-term solution because of the threat of computer hacking.
- Polling places should be equipped with laptops to provide instant access to all county or state voter registration information. This will help alleviate the problem of eligible voters being turned away on election day.
- "Provisional ballots" should be used when registration questions arise.
- Early voting should replace absentee ballots on demand.
- A National Elections Research Lab or program should be created to "foster the development of better voting equipment and voting systems."
- A modular voting architecture should be developed that could serve as a model for future voting technology, one that would offer greater opportunity for innovation in ballot design and security.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 18, 2001.