The Case for Hand-Counted Paper BallotsSubmitted by Charleston Voice on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 00:11
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 12:08
The Case for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots
May 7, 2012
By Jana Nestlerode
This article makes common sense and civics-oriented arguments for hand-counted paper ballots.
There is no foolproof system of voting. But in a country that prides itself for "honoring the will of the people", the means of determining the will of the people should be guarded zealously. While our ballots must be cast in secret, the counting of our ballots must be done in public, transparently, in full light and under the watchful and suspicious eyes of voters, candidates and reporters. Ballot counting should never be contracted out to private corporations with ties to political parties, vested interests, and profit motives. Further, counting the ballots via secret software is antithetical to an open and legitimate election.
The gold standard for elections in a healthy democracy is hand-counted paper ballots. In fact, most of the world's democracies use paper ballots. In Canada, a country with a population of over 21 million registered votersand over 50,000 precincts, paper ballots are counted by hand at the precinct level on election night.
Normally, the counting is completed within four hours of poll closing. When electronic voting machines were challenged in Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini stated "the provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution provide that utilizing paper ballots that are counted manually is the default method of voting and computing votes." There is an excellent reason for this ... it is simply the most reliable system ever devised for secure elections. But there is even more to be said for hand counting paper ballots at the precinct level.
First, hand-counted paper ballots is the system which inspires the greatestvoter confidence. Voters, with good reason, tend to trust their fellow citizens more than machines or private corporations.
Ballot counting would take place in a public arena, under the watchful eyes of cameras, candidates, and voters...
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