Voting machines: a solution searching for a problem?

Punch voting machine

It's US presidential election time again, and the big story as always in America is long queues at polling places. I don't get it. They have the simplest voting system going, where all you get to do is tick a box for your preferred candidate. Yet it takes ages, despite (or is it because of) the use of the latest voting technology.

Australian elections use a relatively complex system of tabulating votes, yet a clear winner is almost always known within a few hours of voting closing. The most I've had to queue to vote (outside of voting at Australia House in London, which often has queues around the block) in an Australian election is about two minutes.

Computer-based voting machine

So what is it that makes the voting process so slow in American elections? Why are there over 30 minute queues as standard?

So without even going into the serious problems with voting machines, it seems they don't actually solve any actual problems, and I suspect cost a lot more to operate than having a bunch of casual vote counting staff on the evening of the vote. In Australian elections I've been involved in (as a party volunteer) the same staff who operate the polling place all day stay back for the vote count in the evening.

The big question is, given this is likely to be the first election of a non-Republican since Bush stole the vote from Gore in 2000 (assuming they don't pull the same trick again), will the Democrats look at reforming the voting systems to prevent these state-based tricks?