Should we go back to using paper ballots? | The Tylt

Should we go back to using paper ballots?

As contentious recounts drag on in Florida and Georgia, politicians on both sides of the aisle are raising questions about invalid ballots and potential vote tampering. After the 2016 election, American voters are more concerned than ever about the preservation of their votes. Yet, many experts are divided on the best way to ensure the integrity of our elections. Some say electronic voting is the best, and most efficient, method. Others say paper ballots are the only way to guarantee election integrity. What do you think?

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should we go back to using paper ballots?
A festive crown for the winner
#PaperBallotsPlease
#ElectronicVotingFTW
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Real-time Voting
Should we go back to using paper ballots?
#PaperBallotsPlease
#ElectronicVotingFTW
#ElectronicVotingFTW

Florida, which uses a paper ballot and direct recording electronic (DRE) system, is currently experiencing one of the many issues with paper ballots—potential human error. As recounts continue and the margin of victory between candidates shrink, the importance of each and every vote increases. The New York Times reports election officials have recorded multiple cases of misplaced or miscounted paper ballots. 

In Broward County, 22 rejected ballots were mixed in with about 180 valid ones and were counted. In Palm Beach County, damaged ballots that were duplicated by hand, as required under state law, were handled without independent observers having a good vantage point to witness the process. Staff members had made rulings themselves on questionable ballots that were supposed to be judged by a three-person panel.
In Miami-Dade County, 266 mailed ballots passing through a sorting facility where bombs targeting Democratic politicians had been found were apparently delayed — they arrived on Saturday, after the deadline, and were not counted.
#PaperBallotsPlease

Voting experts say the risks taken with paper ballots are insignificant when compared to the damage that can be done to electronic voting systems. Bill Richardson, a former congressman, U.N. ambassador, U.S. energy secretary, and governor of New Mexico—as well as Paul Burke, an expert on deterring and recovering from cyber-attacks—wrote an op-ed for CNN, arguing that electronic voting systems are highly susceptible to attack. 

Last summer, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, it took hackers less than one day to infiltrate five different types of electronic voting machines. The hackers told reporters that breaking into the machines didn't involve much "hacking" at all. Sometimes a simple Google search revealed passwords that unlocked the administrative functions of the machines.
...The Department of Homeland Security announced last month that there had been a number of cyberattackers seeking to gain entry into election databases leading up to the midterms.
And there is irrefutable evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and our intelligence agencies are on high alert for any attempts to interfere in the midterms. There is a lack of coordination between intelligence agencies, however, and the continuing failure of too many elected officials to acknowledge the problem. We owe voters more than this.
In order for voters to have confidence that their votes are counted and that the result is an honest one, we need to be able to catch problems. Election officials have to defend every machine. Adversaries only need to infect one.
#ElectronicVotingFTW

New York, however, showcased many of the issues with paper ballots during the midterms. Writer Caity Weaver investigated New York's monstrous 34-inch-long ballots for the New York Times. The ballots were designed to accommodate an archaic, possibly misinterpreted state law, and wreaked havoc on the city's voting systems throughout the day.

Most Americans will go their entire lives without ever holding a piece of paper that is more than three times longer than a normal piece of paper, but of standard width. Try, for a moment, to envision such a sheet. Does the paper of your reckoning curl inward at both ends, like an ancient scroll? Or is it flat and unwieldy, like a rather small, very thin door with no knob that is attached to nothing? Is it more like something out of Kafka’s nightmares, or Picasso’s dreams?
For New York voters in four of the city’s five boroughs on Tuesday, this Frankensteinian concept of ultralong paper was made manifest, as they were handed midterm election ballots measuring 34 inches in length, and then left to contemplate them for hours while they waited for technicians to repair the vote scanning machines being jammed by 34 inch midterm ballots all over the city. (Staten Island, which had fewer candidates and races, distributed a shorter ballot. The executive director of the city’s Board of Directions said there were far fewer problems reported there.)
...Scanning machines reportedly jammed if voters failed to tear their paper ballots across a bisecting perforated edge, or if they did tear along the perforated edge, but imperfectly. Those issues led to voting lines that extended outside of polling places, into a daylong rainstorm, where the ballots people were holding became wet, subsequently causing further problems for people attempting to send damp paper through the $6,485.00 ES & S DS200® precinct scanner and tabulators.
#PaperBallotsPlease

However, New York's issues are an anomaly, while issues with hacking are persistent, and difficult to fix. Per Slate

The Center for American Progress recently released a study that highlighted that 42 states use electronic voting machines with software a decade old or more that leaves them especially vulnerable to hacking and malware. What’s more, five states rely solely on machines that leave no paper trail, and another 10 will use them in at least some districts. These paperless voting machines are especially problematic because even if such a machine were known or suspected to have been hacked, there’s no physical backup ballot to check it against—and therefore no way to determine for certain whether the vote an individual cast matched with the vote that the machine recorded. Worse still, some of the states with the poorest voting-system security are also electoral heavyweights, including Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. It’s a state of vulnerability that’s especially concerning considering recent warnings from leaders like Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who in July cautioned that “the warning lights are blinking red” for potentially catastrophic cyberattacks on the nation’s most important digital infrastructure, including on our election systems.
#ElectronicVotingFTW

Some states say that switching from electronic voting back to paper voting would cause bureaucratic headaches and logistical problems at the polls. States have already switched over to electronic voting, it's too much to ask them to switch back. NPR investigated Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's decision to stick with electronic voting systems. 

The judge said such a paper ballot rollout would "seriously test" the capacity of election workers and "swamp the polls with work and voters," leading to "disaffection and frustration."
"There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion and long lines to sour a citizen," Totenberg said.
...Lawyers for Kemp, and the other election officials, argued the touchscreen machines are secure and that switching to paper ballots so close to the Nov. 6 elections would actually pose more of a security threat.
Paper ballots "are not the Holy Grail of voter integrity," said John Salter, a lawyer for the defense at a hearing last week.
#PaperBallotsPlease

Proponents of paper ballots disagree, saying save states money and are far easier to use. Bloomberg reports: 

In June, voting security advocate Marilyn Marks bought four used optical scanners online from the Canadian government for about $2.50 apiece. Her purchase was meant to make a point: The state of Georgia doesn’t have to spend a lot to replace computerized voting machines considered the most vulnerable in the U.S. And it could do so in time for the midterm elections.
Marks’s advice: Don’t listen to lobbyists for vendors pushing unnecessarily fancy and expensive voting equipment. Go back to paper ballots. Buy cheap used scanners to read them. Get it done now. “The Department of Homeland Security has said it. Every cyber expert says it,” she says. Voting machines like Georgia’s “are a national security risk.”
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should we go back to using paper ballots?
A festive crown for the winner
#PaperBallotsPlease
#ElectronicVotingFTW