Recent election flops in Salina and Saline County are reason
to wonder why we continue to fiddle with electronic voting.
In November, a so-called “malfunction” left voting machines
spluttering away, spewing more than 5,200 votes into the van-
ishing mists of cyberworld.
This “malfunction” was discovered nearly a week after
the polls closed. Officials dismissed the error as “harmless”
because no races had been affected. What rot. They were
affected; we just don’t know how badly.
On April 7, the race for one seat on the Salina City
Commission was apparently decided by two votes, with
Randall Hardy the winner over Joe Hay, 2,135-2,133; the offi-
cial canvass six days later resulted in a tie, 2,141 votes for each.
The tie was decided with a coin toss, Hay the winner. Another
recount turned up another winner, this time Hardy, by three
Notice how the total vote kept changing with each count –
along with the results?
A machine that scans paper ballots was blamed. Human
error was blamed. Cyber voting has been blamed.
Paper is never blamed. A paper ballot is real. It can be held.
It can be counted time and again. A paper trail is crucial to the
election process. Electronic voting is not.
With electronic ballots, and their digital chads dangling
out on some script code, a voter cannot possibly be sure that
what is on a computer screen is recorded accurately. There is
no paper trail in electronic voting in Kansas. When a voter
hits a “send” button, there is no way to show that the vote was
recorded, and that it was recorded accurately.
Electronic “sign-ins” at the polls only perpetuate the poten-
tial (if not actual) fraud; unlike signing registration books and
casting paper ballots, there is no comparing electronic votes
with electronic signatures at a polling place. Here the voter
is asked to trust the myth, the hype that electronic voting is
speedier, more accurate, more efficient.
Sure it is. That’s why we have all those missing votes, van-
ished ballots and record-setting recounts.
Paper ballots are solid, reliable, easily counted. And they
leave a paper trail, the best guarantee for that constitutional
right to a free and fair election.
We have junked paper – and trustworthy elections – in
far too many places. After the November foul-up in Saline
County, the County Commission Chairman at the time, Randy
Duncan, said the episode was “scary. That makes me wonder
about voting machines,” he told The Salina Journal. “Should
we go back to paper ballots?”
We shouldn’t need to wonder. We should feel secure in vot-
ing. We would, with paper ballots – everywhere.
groups. We’re not so fearful that they will succeed, but they
are bound to mess up the proceedings and cause new divisions
among the citizenry.
We should junk the constitutional convention before too
many people take the idea seriously. We don’t need it.
Budgetary goals can be reached by more orderly proceedings,
if legislators or the Congress can muster the will. The threat of
tampering with our basic law is real, and a convention costs
more money than we need spend.
– JOHN MARSHALL