The prolonged furore reached the US supreme court and introduced the world to arcane terminology such as “hanging chads” and “butterfly ballots”. In the end, some 172,000 misvotes were recorded.
The supreme court ended the recounts in December 2000, which meant Florida’s votes went to Bush, handing him the election despite Gore’s 0.5% edge in the national popular vote.
In the wake of the national embarrassment over the election, most states moved to bring on a new generation of voting machines. That decision has, ironically, led to today’s pending crisis.
The machines that were bought after 2000 ran largely on 1990s computer designs, and unlike the sturdy manual machines they replaced, they were not built to last for decades. The new iteration of the voting machine is more complicated in its internal makeup, with more moving parts, making it less durable.
The Brennan Center study found several ways in which the machines were already ceasing to function properly. Some are simply crashing as their memory cards fail; others are recording inaccurate votes as the glue comes unstuck between the screen of the voting machine and the computer wiring behind it, putting the touch technology out of sync.