Paper Ballots Might Be A Good Idea

Yesterday The Hill reported that state officials in Mississippi have confirmed at least three reports of voting machines in two counties changing voters’ picks in the GOP gubernatorial primary runoff.

The article reports:

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves are currently in a runoff for the Republican nomination in the governor’s race to see who will take on Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood in the November general election. Reeves led Waller in the Aug. 6 balloting by a 49-33 margin, though the race went to a runoff after no candidate hit 50 percent.

The issues emerged Tuesday morning, with one Facebook user posting a video showing a touch-screen voting machine changing their selection from Waller to Reeves.

“It is not letting me vote for who I want to vote for,” the voter says in the video. “How can that happen?” a woman in the background asks.

…Two other machines in Calhoun County exhibited the same issue of switching voters’ selection from Waller to Reeves, circuit clerk Carlton Baker told the Ledger.

All three machines in question are of the same model.

“We’re doing what we can to rectify the situation,” Baker said.

Voting machines that change votes need to be gone by 2020. It might be the right time to go back to paper ballots.

Securing Our Elections

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted a story about voting in the Netherlands.

The article reports:

Mickey Kaus notes that the Netherlands is going to go back to conducting its elections with paper ballots. “Dutch go old school against Russian hacking,” he notes, linking to a Politico Europe story. Kaus adds an appropriate shout-out to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who has been calling for paper ballots for years.

Going back to paper ballots may strike many people, as it used to strike me, as retrograde. Isn’t it a lot faster to count electronic votes? Isn’t there a danger that paper ballots can be altered, defaced, and burned? Isn’t electronic voting cooler and more up to date?

As I have stated before, technical things mystify me. However, it does seem to me that having a paper record to verify voting totals is a good idea. It may not be necessary to go back to counting paper ballots by hand if we can scan them by machine and have the physical ballots to verify the totals.

The article concludes:

The fact is that sacrificing a bit of speed for reliability is probably a good trade. The strongest argument for paper ballots is that they can’t be hacked. The second strongest is that there is an independent record of each ballot cast, which some computerized systems lack.

It may take a long time to count ballots in some states where they include many offices and ballot propositions, but people can wait. And recounts of paper ballots can result in disputes over hanging chads and the like, but these are difficulties our republic has been handling for over 200 years. My vote is for paper ballots.

Good idea.