Craig Stender of Arizona is a former CIO for the Arizona Department of Transportation. He studied at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona and received a number of academic awards. He is an expert in information systems with special expertise in motor vehicle computer systems and voting machines. He was part of a first in nation effort to register voters online. Craig comments that voting machines are extremely valuable pieces of computing machinery but that they get very little attention.


Craig Stender: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Voting Systems

The technology used in voting systems continues to change and evolve. Although, the machinery found in these devices is not complex compared to many other modern computing machines, and they are vulnerable to unintentional errors and attacks. That means they require regular updates and oversight, Craig Stender explains. Those frequent updates make up much of the history of these machines. Craig Stender describes five interesting way-points in the journey voting technology has followed to get where they are today.


Early Voting Tech & Techniques

The first official ballots were used in Australia in 1856. The U.S. adopted the method of secure voting in Massachusetts in 1888. The punch card system and the mechanical lever machine were developed in 1889, but it was not used for voting until the 1960s. This system of voting was still used in some areas as recently as 2017. Today, virtually all voting is done electronically.


Lever Machines go Viral

By the 1930s, lever machines were installed in voting centers in every major city. At a glance, Craig Stender Arizona, resident tells us, they resembled the old telephone operating systems you may have seen on old TV and movies where an operator manually plugs and unplugs cables to connect callers.


The Optical Scan Ballot

The first “mark-sense” ballots were used in 1962 in Kern County, California. It was developed by the City of Los Angeles and the Norden Division of United Aircraft. Mark-sense ballots looked almost exactly like the Scantron test sheets that were common in schools from the 1970s to the 1990s.


Computerized Tallying Debuts

The first computer-driven vote-counting machines were used in Georgia in 1964 to decide the presidential election. Since then, multiple methods have continued to be used to enable voters to register and submit their votes. But computerized voting systems gradually became the norm.


Direct Recording Electronic Voting Machine

In 1974 Ziebold and Kirby developed the Video Voter machine which made voting simpler than ever. However, security issues became a more serious concern. According to Craig Stender of Arizona, the first official government audit of voting systems was completed in 1975.


Since the advent of today’s computing systems and the Internet, the development of the modern voting machine has been an inevitability. While accidents and cyber attacks are a persistent concern, developments are constantly underway to guard against such problems.