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Letter: Paper ballots aren't as secure as you think
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Poll officer Roberta Wagner marks a tally as ballots are read aloud after polls close on Election Day at Clermont Town Hall in Clermont, on Nov. 7, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

I doubt if the experts supporting paper ballots have actually ever hand counted them, a labor intensive process!

I started my career in elections in 1965, when an electric typewriter was a luxury. We did manually count paper ballots back then. It’s hard to believe that voters would circle names, draw a line through names, vote for more than one candidate, etc. Interpreting “voter intent” was not always possible. Using technology to make ballot marking easy is a good thing!

In the “good old days” paper ballots were sequentially numbered with duplicate numbered stubs. (Expensive to print even back then.) Before the ballot was dropped into the ballot box, the second numbered stub was removed and checked to ensure that this was the same ballot issued to the voter. This was to prevent the infamous “chain ballot.”

A chain ballot starts with a voter not turning in his or her ballot, then waiting outside for voters, giving them the correctly marked ballot to turn in and then return with their blank ballot to receive payment. The chain continues until the last voter in the chain turns in two ballots leaving no trace of any fraud.

Paper ballots are not as secure as we want them to be.

Another major expense after printing ballots for 100 percent of the voters, is storing ballots for 22 months (federal law). With so many special elections, the paper really starts to stack up. In an election with a 20 percent turnout, 80 percent of the ballots are wasted.

John Sullivan


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