Now that the race to become the next U.S. president has finally ended, the most tech-enabled election can now be properly dissected by data nerds and market analysts. However, one tech issue that arose during the waning moments of the election, involving touchscreen technology, may become a source of controversy for years to come.
As the election was in progress, a Reddit user posted a video that appeared to show a touchscreen machine logging a vote for Mitt Romney when he selected Barack Obama. According to the poster, he asked voters at other machines if they had the same problem and they said they had not. After reporting the issue to a volunteer he then shot a video of the apparent glitch. MSNBC later confirmed the validity of the anecdote regarding the problematic machine and reported that it had been taken out of operation in Pennsylvania. Despite the concerns surrounding the machine, Mother Jones reported that the machine was put back into use at the polling station after being re-calibrated.
The MSNBC report also highlighted the fact that the Republican National Committee sent a letter to election officials just last week with concerns regarding touchscreen voting machines used earlier that had logged the same error in reverse (logging votes for Obama when Romney was selected). The group asked that the machines be re-calibrated and that technicians be on hand to re-calibrate the machines on election day in case of any problems.
Thankfully, for all parties concerned, the election results were relatively decisive, essentially avoiding a scenario in which the touchscreen issue might play a significant role in the election. Nevertheless, in years to come, such software glitches could, unfortunately, decide the fate of an election. You can see the touchscreen glitch in the video below.