Thursday, March 29, 2018

Voting Machines MUST Generate A Paper Ballot

The voting machine pictured here is the Ivotronic. It is a touch screen voting machine that's very easy to use (even for a first-time voter), and it allows poll workers to report voting results very quickly after the polls close.

I am very familiar with the machine -- both as a voter and a poll worker. However, I was disappointed when I recently moved to a new county in Texas, and found my new county was also using this same machine (as are thousands of counties across this nation).

Why was I disappointed? Because the machine has a fatal flaw in my opinion. It does not generate a paper readout that shows the voter how their vote was counted. The voter just has to hope their vote was counted and reported correctly.

This is bad for several reasons. 1) It wouldn't be known if a crooked election judge or worker tampered with the machine to miscount votes. 2) Machines do make mistakes. 3) It is impossible to do a recount in a close election, because no matter how many times you ask it, the machine will spit out the same numbers.

Now, there is another reason to mistrust the machine's results -- the interference by another nation in our electoral system (Russia). We now know that Russians hacked into the electoral systems of at least 21 states in the 2016 election. It is believed that they only got into voter rolls and were not able to change any vote totals. But will they be better at their hacking in 2018 or 2020? Will they then have the ability to alter vote totals to suit themselves?

Some are calling for a return to paper ballots that are hand-counted. I wouldn't like to see that. I worked at the polls when paper ballots were used, and counting them took forever. It was a rural precinct that had only a few hundred ballots, and it still took until about 3 am before the ballots were counted and ready to be reported. I can imagine it would be a nightmare for a urban or suburban precinct with a few thousand voters.

There is another solution. Make sure all machines print a paper ballot that can be saved and recounted if there is a question of the validity of the originally reported results. This can be done in two ways.

1) Voters could vote on a paper ballot that is then fed into an electronic counter. Those paper ballots could always be recounted by hand if there is any question.

2) Make sure all electronic voting machines print out a record of how the voter cast his/her vote. The voter could check the printout, make sure it's correct, and then put it in a locked ballot box. Those paper printouts could be hand-counted if there is any question.

It doesn't matter which way is chosen by county governments. Both would work. But it is now imperative that all electronic voting machines print out the results. It is the only way to insure our electoral system is correct, and the only way to restore voters faith in our electoral system -- especially in light of Russian electoral hacking, and a president that refuses to acknowledge the hacking even took place.

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