The backlash against voting machines without a paper trail is underway as more are demanding the use of paper ballots across the country. According to a press release from the Missouri Senate:
State Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, has filed legislation to require paper ballots to be used in Missouri elections. The legislation is in response to election irregularities Sen. Onder says occurred in many states during the 2020 presidential election.
“2020 saw some of the worst violations of election integrity in our history,” Sen. Onder said. “I believe it is abundantly clear that judicial and executive branch officials in four swing states violated the constitutional standards for presidential elections.”
Senator Onder’s bill would prohibit the exclusive use of electronic vote tabulation in Missouri, and require that every citizen’s vote is recorded on a paper ballot, which can be verified in the event of discrepancies.
“After 2020, we in Missouri need to ensure we do everything in our power to bolster the integrity of our electoral system,” Sen. Onder said. “The bill I introduce today is one of many reforms that are needed to ensure election integrity and restore citizens’ confidence in the legitimacy and fairness of our elections.”
Senator Onder serves portions of St. Charles County and the residents of Missouri’s 2nd Senatorial District.
For more information about Sen. Onder, visit his webpage. Be sure to also check out the Democracy Chronicles Election Technology section and our articles on Technology Dissidents, the Internet and Democracy or Voting Machines.
Even though the flashy technology may be impressive, regular Democracy Chronicles readers might be skeptical. Much recommended is this discussion on voting technology from [email protected], part of “a series of quarterly conferences run by the U.S. Department of State that bring together individuals in the technology sector and foreign policy experts with the aim of exploring new ways of incorporating technologies into diplomacy and development”. The video has the following summary:
Electronic voting and counting technologies are increasingly being used or considered around the world. This includes touch screen “direct recording” electronic voting machines, internet voting, and optical scan machines, mobile voting, as well as biometric voter registration and verification. While the use of these technologies can bring benefits, they have also been met with concerns. This panel will explore recent experiences and challenges with e-voting, how electoral officials have managed these challenges, and how election observers are adapting their methods to monitor these technologies.
Moderating the panel discussion is Michael McNulty, from the National Democratic Institute. Panelists include such experts as Michael Alvarez of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, Doug Chapin of the University of Minnesota, Ben Goldsmith of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and Dan Nolan of Scytl, a leader in the business of electoral security technology. Watch the full video, about an hour and fifteen minutes long, right here:
US Federal, State, and Local elections employ a number of voting materials and equipment during elections. Jamila Benkato, who serves as Council for nonprofit Protect Democracy, is one person warning that the major vendors ES&S, Hart, and Dominion produce approximately 92% of the equipment used during every US election. The role of these companies in US democracy cannot be underlooked yet the same role is under-examined, Benkato notes. According to the article:
“Perhaps most concerning are vendor efforts to keep secret the technology upon which American elections rely while at the same time feteing state and local election officials with expensive trips and meals. Vendors have actively and increasingly pushed back on efforts to study and analyze the equipment that forms the basic foundation of our democratic processes.”
Read Benkato’s very interesting arguments for reform in the article here. Benkato has previously worked as a law clerk to the Honorable David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, at the ACLU of Southern California’s Immigrants’ Rights and National Security Projects, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee.
Election administrators have a complex job. They must balance multiple demands on their time and ensure that there exist the proper procedures, supplies, and personnel to manage our voting booths. However, even when there is not intentional manipulation of election results for them to worry about, people are only human and mistakes do happen. A new tool called risk-limiting election audits is becoming a hot topic for discussion in election reform circles as a method to identify when something goes wrong with election results.
On January 31st, 2019, the Brennan Center for Justice held an 8-hour program that focused on “Making Every Vote Count: A Practical Guide to Risk-Limiting Audits”. There is a real hope the technique can be used to address the weaknesses and shortcomings of voting technology since there is no full guarantee of security on computer software. One must also note the other solution of having voting systems that were software-free but that’s for another article. Here is the description from the event invite:
With the spotlight on election security, election administrators need tools to provide voters with confidence in all stages of our electoral system. Join election officials, cybersecurity experts, policy makers, and others for a practical overview of cutting-edge post-election audits, which provide statistical confidence in election outcomes.
As election officials across the country continue to look for opportunities to make their systems and procedures more secure before the 2020 election, what should election officials know about risk-limiting audits? What are they? What tools are necessary? How do they work in states with different voting systems? How much do they cost? We’ll tackle these topics and more.
During this talk, you will get to learn more from top experts at the Brennan Center and also get answers to some of the above questions. The video lasts for a full 8 hours so get comfortable!