On paper ballots


Mario Burgos has an excellent post online about ballots, re: the paper vs. electronic debate. He makes a good case, so I’m just going to quote a good chunk:

Why is it that when it comes to voting there seems to be only two camps? Either those wanting paper ballots or those wanting electronic voting? Why can’t we have both and make everyone happy?

Think about it?

An electronic ATM style touch screen voting machine that prints out a paper ballot that then can be visually verified by the voter before being fed into a paper scanning machine for a redundant tabulation. This way everyone is happy.

  1. Joe/Jane Voter knows that the machine registered his/her vote correctly.
  2. There is built in redundancy with machines checking machines.
  3. There is a paper trail in case of doubt.
  4. Neither partisan volunteers nor partisan clerk employees are trying to determine at 2:00 a.m. in the morning what someone “intended” by the strange illegible mark they put on a paper ballot.
  5. We are still able to use technology, so that we can have a true count on Election Night.

I think he’s right. Every election, I take my grandmother to vote early. She’s disabled, and needs help casting her ballot. It was much easier with the touchscreen machines, because she could read the names on the display without assistance.

At the same time, I think we need th redundancy of a paper trail. Why not use the best of both worlds?

There’s still some kinks to work out (I think we need open-source platforms for the machines) but, otherwise, the system should work.
(updated to include a link)

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