By Dan Diorio
It might seem natural to think that all counties and jurisdictions in a state would use the same type of voting equipment, but the decentralized nature of elections in our country means that's not the case.
In fact, for much of our history, the map of election equipment looked a multi-colored crazy quilt.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002, in response to the 2000 presidential election, has helped to even out that crazy quilt and now 18 states have a uniform voting system in which the same type of voting equipment is used by every jurisdiction in the state.
Still, even those 18 states have different degrees of uniformity. While Alaska, Delaware, and Oklahoma have highly centralized systems, Georgia and Maryland are centralized for equipment but less so for other administrative aspects of elections.
Uniform systems allow jurisdictions to share voting machines, but also may lack flexibility—what works for a larger county may not necessarily work for a smaller one.
Here are some things legislators should consider about uniform voting systems:
- Is it a desirable attribute in your state?
- Would statutes need to be changed to allow for standardization of voting systems and procedures?
- Is a move to a uniform system sustainable?
For more information on uniform voting systems, read the June issue of NCSL’s elections newsletter, The Canvass.
Dan Diorio is a policy specialist in NCSL's Elections Program.