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Voting-machine glitches: How bad was it on Election Day around the country?

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An early Monitor analysis shows that four swing states – Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, and Florida – rely to varying degrees on paperless machines.

Early reports by a team of 5,000 lawyers and 3,000 grassroots poll watchers from the nonprofit machine-watchdog group Verified Voting documented scores of cases of e-voting machine glitches. Many of the problems occurred in Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, states that still use Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines – touch-screen voting equipment that lack any paper backup for later recount.

Multiple reports of calibration problems with e-voting machines – the type of problem that results in vote flipping – occurred in Virginia, Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio, says Pamela Smith, executive director of Verified Voting, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based e-voting machine watchdog group. Many more reports, however, involved too few machines at polling places, malfunctioning equipment, and "ballot presentation errors" in which poor programming resulted in electronic screen presentations of the ballot that cause voter errors.

"What we've seen in 2012 is a real throwback to the kinds of reports from some jurisdictions that we've gotten for previous elections," Ms. Smith says. "What's pretty surprising is the volume of calls we've received reporting problems. What isn't surprising is that a lot of those calls are about broken equipment – which when it gets so old you just kind of expect not to work."

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