The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

August 11, 2008

Election officials leaning toward scanning ballots over electronic voting

Don’t look now, but we could be in for another round of election problems come November.

The federal government came up with a $3 billion plan to update voting machines across the country after the “hanging-chad” mess in Florida in 2000. The plan was to use electronic voting machines, as opposed to machines using paper.

Well, guess what? Across the country, thousands of touchscreen voting machines are sitting in warehouses gathering dust. They won’t be used in the November presidential election.

Why is this happening? Because election officials are worried about hackers and various glitches. So, they have junked the electronic machines in favor of scanners that will read paper ballots, similar to the system we use in Oklahoma.

Our current voting system has been around for 16 years, and has proven to be reliable.

Voters use felt-tipped pens to mark their choices on paper ballots and feed their ballots into optical scanners, which read and record the voters’ choices.

We haven’t had any major issues. We certainly haven’t had any problems with “hanging-chads” — those little pieces of paper that didn’t fall out when Florida voters made their choices.

The problem with paper ballots is one primarily of cost. Paper ballots have to be printed, shipped and stored — all of which costs money.

This country needs a standardized voting system, as long as it is one that works properly.

We don’t need touchscreen machines that can be hacked and that can crash because of electronic problems.

We don’t need paper ballots that require people to poke out holes to pick their candidates. Those ballots proved to be a disaster in Florida in 2000.

Plain and simple, we need a reliable way to pick winners in elections. Right now, paper ballots and optical scanners seem to be the most reliable options out there.

Yes, there is the added cost associated with using paper ballots, but what other choice is out there? We have to guarantee our elections are honest and above board. To do that we need a reliable system for registering votes.

We as a nation need an election system that works. We think the system we have in Oklahoma works and should be considered, at least for now until a better system can be created.

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