More paper ballots in use, but not for a quarter of the electorate

November’s mid-term election will employ the highest number of voter-marked paper ballots in a U.S. election in more than a decade, says Verified Voting Foundation policy analyst Sean Flaherty.

Verified Voting found that 67 percent of American voters will be able to use voter-marked paper ballots when they go to the polls on November 2nd. Most jurisdictions that use paper ballots also employ optical scanners to quickly tabulate vote totals.

“We’re gratified with the direction we’ve seen, toward more jurisdictions with verifiable, recountable elections. But one fourth of the nation’s voters are still forced to depend on voting systems that cannot be recounted,” Verified Voting president Pamela Smith said. “This situation must change by 2012. The phase-out of voting without a safety net is long overdue.”

The reason paper ballots are so important is that numerous academic studies by the nation’s top computer scientists – at the University of California, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, NYU and others – proved that electronic voting machines are not tamper-proof. In 2006, a team led by Princeton computer expert Edward Felton was able to replace a memory card in a voting machine then in wide use in Maryland with one carrying a vote-altering virus in less than a minute without leaving a trace.

Without a paper trail, there’s no way to do a recount or verify easily altered electronic records.

As The Examiner’s Mark Hemingway reports, voters in Nevada have been complaining that House Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name is already marked on electronic ballots, and that the technicians used to repair the machines are members of the Service Employees International Union, which has endorsed Reid for reelection.

Voters can easily check out which kind of voting technology is in use in their state by checking out Verified Voting’s recently updated Verifier.

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