Hanging chads, pregnant chads, dimples, all that good stuff. Those terms came up in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. There was a big groundswell to update voting machine technology from punch cards and optical scan sheets to touchscreen since there’s not (theoretically) ambiguity with bits. Either you selected that guy or that other guy for that office.
There have been studies done by universities on the security of Direct Recording Electronic Voting Machines. Most recently, an article in the MIT Technology Review discusses DRE voting machines and has a spiffy graphic of which states use paper ballots, DRE machines with a paper trail, and DRE machines with no paper trail:
Of those states that use DRE machines, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nevada are considered swing states, and as you can see from the map, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Colorado do not have any sort of voter-verified paper trail. The main issue is that sometimes computers make mistakes and might record the wrong data to the storage media. There have been supposed reports of the machines checking the wrong box. Of course, these reports usually come up every presidential year.
Now, correct me if I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression that Georgia was due to review the use of our DRE machines. Personally, I’d like to see a receipt that would be printed out of the machine that I could review and then drop in a locked box that would be sealed until after the election was over. Maybe this is something that Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the legislature work on for the 2014 or 2016 elections.