NEWJERSEY: Election problems in Mercer County

Why the voting machines failed in Mercer County
Andrew Appel

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Conclusion. This was an embarrassing failure of our county election system. Voters were angry that the voting machines didn’t work, and had an uncomfortable feeling depositing the ballots in a slot where who-knows-what would happen to them. For over a decade I have been advocating for preprinted hand-marked paper ballots, counted by precinct-count optical scanners, so it was embarrassing for me too.  

But I still advocate for preprinted hand-marked ballots, because all of the alternatives are much, much worse: if a touchscreen ballot-marking device makes a mistake or is hacked, you might never know that the vote totals are wrong. With preprinted hand-marked paper ballots, even if there’s intentional computer hacking, those hand-marked paper ballots can be recounted. In Mercer County, the system worked. We had the paper ballots and we counted them, so we can be confident our results reflect the will of the voters. Even with these mistakes, this election was more secure and more trustworthy than previous elections that had no paper ballots.

Our election administrators have some work to do – and they know it – in improving communications with vendors, logic and accuracy testing, and chain of custody protocols. I feel confident that they’re on it.  

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Couldn’t this all be avoided by uniform technology and processes state wide?

Or do the politicians and bureaucrats want it this way to cheat!


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