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Speed or transparency: problems with counting systems reopen debate

Pollsters and election watchdog associations disagree on whether to increase use of technology for same-day results or return to slower manual counting to gain credibility.


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The midterms featured numerous failures of vote-counting machines in several counties. This reopened the debate between those calling for technological improvements so that results are known immediately on election night versus those calling for a return to manual ballot counting to ensure greater transparency.

Problems reported in Maricopa County, Ariz., Mercer County, N.J., Luzerne County, Pa., Floyd County, Ind., and Albany County, N.Y. created serious problems for voters and delayed the count. Although the machines had been tested prior to Election Day, their malfunctions caused chaos at the moment of truth.

"Elections aren't complex"

In addition to the delay in the final tally, the problems cast doubt upon the credibility of the electoral process. This was especially pronounced in Maricopa County, where the affected votes may prove to be decisive in the tight gubernatorial race between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs. The polls projected Lake to win a large majority in this district, as the candidate herself pointed out.

"Elections aren't complex," Phill Kline, director of the nonprofit election monitoring organization The Amistad Project, told Just The News. According to Kline, a voter filling out his or her ballot and depositing it in the ballot box to be counted is not difficult. For the expert, it is technology that has complicated elections.

"Doing away with machines"

Kline analyzes that the only advantage of using machines is speed, but it comes at a high cost: transparency. In the eyes of The Amistad Project, the United States "has hired a black box to count its vote," making the counting process opaque to citizens. Kline asserts that election machines have "harmed our faith in elections and will continue to because we can't make them transparent."

For the expert, the solution is clear: "We need to nix the machines" and prioritize accuracy and transparency over speed, adding that it's "not a McDonald's drive-thru." To do this, he proposes that America should go "back in the counting room and understand what's happening."

Eighty percent want same-day results

On the contrary, pollster Scott Rasmussen believes that counting speed should be prioritized so that citizens know the results by election night. He believes this is a sentiment that an overwhelming majority of Americans share: "One of the 80% issues, and there aren't a whole lot of 80% issues in America-one of them is that all ballots should be in by Election Day."

The expert gave the example of Alaska's electoral system. This state has implemented an "alternative voting system that allows voters to rank multiple candidates on a ballot in order of preference." The result is that citizens will not know the results for a few weeks. "Alaska is five hours behind us or whatever, but not three weeks," stressed Rasmussen.

I think this is something we're going to have to address. through the political process. For example, when you lose the Super Bowl, you lose. You don't keep stretching it out for a few more games. That's what has happened in the country today. If you're talking about reforms that really have strong support, they are things like photo ID and getting the ballots in by Election Day.