Paper not Plastic

by Andrew Chulock
June 6, 2008

The best way that I can think of, for an election to be fair and verifiable is for paper ballots, whereby any citizen can volunteer to be a poll worker in any precinct, can stay to watch the counting of the paper ballots in a precinct, and thus every poll worker knows the total for their individual precinct, and this number is immediately available to the press.

When I was a volunteer for UPI in the 1984 elections, I was given a tally to telephone to UPI from the individual precinct I was assigned to. Although they may have used a mode other than paper, as I was the person who received the number from the precinct, this is a system that works because it has multiple independent redundant and verifiable links. For example, if I had reported the wrong number of votes for either Mondale or Reagan, there was the person that handed off the numbers for me to report, as well as the individual volunteers at the precinct who stayed to watch the vote count.

I then reported the numbers to along with many other volunteers at other precincts across the nation and UPI had their vote tally. Other press agencies undoubtedly had other volunteers and workers doing the same, so if AP,UPI, the major networks had different numbers, their was a way to cross reference each other as well as the official vote tally from the government.

Computer voting to me seems far less reliable. The iregularities in Florida, as bad as they were, is not a prototype nor an excuse to implement a new system that is untried and and untested in an era with so many computer errors where people have trouble just logging on to their own computers sometimes. The punchcards, as bad as they were in 2000, worked in Florida for many generations, they left physical evidence of people's choice. The 1984 election in Indiana worked for me, even though I voted for Mondale. As exciting as this election campaign has been thus far and what the general election looks to be, I'm choosing paper over plastic.