Electronic Voting

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The Paper Ballot Process- How it Works Best and Why it is the Gold Standard for Fair and Honest Elections

by Staff Writer

While there have been great leaps forward in technology in all areas of life, fair and honest elections remain such a fundamental process to the success of our republic that the application of technology for expediency's sake must be examined with a jaundiced eye. All electronic voting machines and tabulation systems are subject to fraud, manipulation, outright hacking and good old fashion computer errors- as we have seen reported time and again. Paper ballots, especially when combined with automatic risk-limiting audits, establish an irrefutable trail of accountability that no other form of election management offers.

If an electronic voting machine of any sort is suspected of involvement in fraud or errors, the only resolution of the problem resides in the software, hardware and data storage of the machine and the servers and transmission of data associated with them. Since these are also the source of the problem, there is no longer an independent, incorruptible source of original data to resolve the accusation of fraud or errors! Even if the voting machines function is limited to OCR scanning of paper ballots, the process of accumulating, storing, transmitting and verifying results is fraught with failures and manipulation.

When paper ballots are presented to registered voters, correctly tabulated and stored, and the results are then correlated with a risk-limiting audit, then the results are highly reliable. In the event of a challenge to the voting process, the original data is available, and can be recounted and re-tabulated. When there is a conflict between the results of the original tabulation and the risk-limiting audit, a more thorough audit is indicated. This, then, is a critical component of the gold standard for the electoral process.

Risk-limiting audits are one of the most cost effective and powerful tools for ensuring election fairness. Paper ballots are mission critical for the end result to be a thoroughly enumerated electorate with verified results. A risk-limiting audit manually compares a select number of paper ballots to the tabulated results. In order to be effective, the paper ballots must be securely stored and available for statistical sampling, and the number of ballots recorded manually increases when the election results are closer.

Why, then, risk the integrity of this process through by voting machines? For convenience? Expediency? The voting machines that are currently available are riddled with problems, including known hacking defects, are expensive to acquire and maintain, and deprive local citizens of rightful pay and job opportunities. Those who propose amendments to the paper ballot process are missing two crucial points: one, the electronic processes are always subject to software, hardware, data storage and transmission problems, and two, spending the state's money on these machines means fewer jobs and less money for the locals.

It is time to insist on the value of each citizen's vote and properly account for it with paper ballots and risk-limiting audits. Only through these easily verifiable and accurate processes can the integrity of the vote be guaranteed. The cost, availability and accuracy of these methods are far superior to any costly electronic system that, additionally, is subject to fraud, manipulation and hacking. Our worth as citizens must not be compromised for the sake of a costly electronic voting system that is subject to errors and fraud, and more than possible to deprive citizens of a fair, honest and accurate election.

Clean Voter Rolls and Voter ID

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