What’s better, electronic voting or paper ballots? Print
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 13:01

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ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Thursday, Seward County voters got the chance to see equipment they could potentially be using to cast their ballots in the near future.

While the response to the demonstration overall seemed to be positive, at least one local resident said he has a different preference than the three sets of equipment presented at the Administration Building, and this system, he said, will give voters peace of mind with a more secure voting system.

“That is returning to paper ballots, a ballot box and poll watchers with integrity, all of which are not subject to the kinds of tampering and hacking that machines are,” Tony Whisenant said in the citizens comments portion of Tuesday’s regular Seward County Commission meeting.

Whisenant also reminded taxpayers that, unlike machines, maintenance costs are nearly nothing with ballot boxes.

“I would also like to remind everyone that with the kinds of money involved in some bond issues, it’s not necessarily the government that may be tempted to tamper with a vote,” he said.

Furthermore, Whisenant said this would allow more private voting in booths with curtains not with someone else looking over voters’ shoulders.

In an interview, Seward County Clerk Stacia Long later said both machines and paper ballots are necessary parts of today’s elections.

“There’s a lot that is involved in that process, and the federal law requires that every voting booth, every voting location be ADA compliant,” she said. “That also means that every voter with a disability is able to go and vote a ballot unassisted, and that just simply cannot happen with a paper ballot.”

Long said Seward County has a requirement for ballots in both English and Spanish, and this means likely twice as many paper ballots would need to be printed as normally would be, plus more ballot styles.

“I wouldn’t know how many ballots to order in Spanish versus how many to order in English, and the cost would probably be prohibitable,” she said.

Last Thursday, Long said the demand for paper ballots still exists even in a world that seems to be going paperless, and both paper and electronic voting are required not only from society but government as well.

“In the state of Kansas, I know every election official has to give a voter the opportunity to ask for a paper ballot if they want,” she said Tuesday. “We’ve always had that.”

Long did say, though, locally, the demand for paper ballots, at least at the voting precinct, is rather low.

“Here in Seward County for the most part, I have one, maybe two voters who ask for a paper ballot,” she said. “The other paper ballots are the ones that we mail out, people that request them by mail.”

Long said other than those few voters, others seem to be pleased with the machines used to cast ballots currently and those that could be used in the future.

“The equipment that we saw demonstrations of will print a paper ballot,” she said. “It’s a touch screen. You touch and make your selection. It prints a ballot. You verify your ballot, and then you cast the ballot.”

Long said she feels Seward County’s elections are more secure than those in other areas of the country.

“I feel 100 percent confident in our security,” she said. “Number one, it is never ever hooked to the Internet. We always have it locked up. I have a room that’s actually locked, and that’s where it’s stored, so I feel comfortable.”

While Whisenant said paper ballots would provide more security in elections, Long said neither paper nor electronics has an advantage when it comes to security.

“I do not feel like there’s any more security,” she said. “It’s a matter of having things locked and not allowing access and being able to audit, which is something that can be done with both systems either way.”