Voting machines again?

Dear Editor,

Regarding the article about new voting machines for Pennsylvania (12/3/18), I was surprised to read that it took a lawsuit for the Wolf administration to concede that elections are important enough to be verifiable.

I thought that, as elections are the beating heart of a democratic republic, that would be obvious to most. The article reports that to address the problem of machines invisibly accounting for all the votes, Pennsylvania will use voter-verifiable paper ballots in the future. Unfortunately, it appears they plan to do this by acquiring expensive new machines – a route that virtually guarantees UNverifiability.

To the point, ballot-scanning machines and tabulators remain the site of all the same vulnerabilities we have now with touch-screen machines. Only hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots can banish the acknowledged problems inherent in all electronic voting systems: vulnerability to hacks, program malfeasance, “electronic glitches,” and power outages. Things like this can alter or cast doubt on elections and therefore the course of history. We should not take these risks lightly. These issues will not be fixed merely by providing voters with the opportunity to see their ballot cards before a machine does with them whatever it will.

Regarding the vaunted “paper trail” these machines provide, only when an election result is microscopically close are ballots ever “recounted” – that is, recounts are almost always done using the same potentially compromised or faulty machines and tabulators. The definition of insanity comes to mind.

Having better grasped the problem, states and entire countries have ditched all their machines in favor of the only trustworthy system: hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots. Holland did this last year to provide an accurate, verifiable count while preventing direct foreign interference – all at cost savings. Hand counting may take longer, but is there any (good) reason to consider speed more important than accuracy?

We too should insist on the gold-standard in vote-accuracy while saving on taxes, by implementing hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots in Pennsylvania and Warren County. If we are going to bother having elections, we should bother to make them accurate. It’s just that basic. It’s that important.


Thomas Paquette,