Washington, July 21 : With many states introducing new voting technologies and millions of new voters heading to the polls this November, election officials and voting monitors fear the combination is likely to create long lines, stressed-out poll workers and late tallies on the election day.
As quoted in the New York Times, about half of all voters will use machines unlike the ones they used in the last presidential election, experts say, and more than half of the states will use new statewide databases to verify voter registration.
The new voting equipments would be used by at least 11 states, as the nation shifts away from touch-screen machines and to the paper ballots of optical scanners to be used by more than 55 per cent of voters.
Senator Barack Obama's candidacy is expected to attract many people who have never encountered a voting machine, voting experts and election officials say they are worried that the system may buckle under the increased strain.
Ohio plans to add paper backups in case its electronic machines break down again, as they did in 2004, creating long lines.
Many voters heading to the polls in November will receive a paper ballot for the first time.
The paper ballots are counted by optical scanners and provide a more reliable paper trail than touch-screen machines in case of a dispute or a malfunction.
The election commission has predicted that at least two million poll workers will be needed in November; double the number in the 2004 presidential election.
New Jersey, New York and California, among other states, face shortages of poll workers or the money to pay for them.
Poll worker training and ballot design will be more important than ever this year.
In New Jersey, election officials placed advertisements in newspapers asking people to sign up to work during the polls. In California, election officials posted pleas on the Internet.
Voting rights advocates are working with officials in Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania to try to prevent the kind of ballot design problems that added to the loss of around 12,000 votes in this year's presidential primary in Los Angeles County and 18,000 votes in a 2006 Congressional race in Sarasota County, Fla.