More counties switching to paper ballots amid election hacking fears

Posted at 10:06 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 17:45:18-04

Tuesday is Cleveland’s Mayoral primary. If you go to vote, you’ll notice, as it has been for years, you’ll be filling out a paper ballot.

This though, is not the norm. In most Ohio counties, a touch screen computer system is used. But it turns out, when it comes to voting, old school is better than new technology.

“In my opinion, old school is better,” said Pat McDonald, the Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Technology is rapidly evolving, but one thing that’s stayed the same though is the fact, a paper trail doesn’t lie.

“It’s great as well for audit trails. So during recounts and auditing purposes, you have that actual, physical piece of paper which is the ballot to compare a hand-count to the actual tabulation system,” said McDonald.

In Cuyahoga County it’s been only paper ballots since 2008.

“The voters here within the county and the state, they’re very confident in having a hard copy to vote on,” said McDonald.

The county is one of a small handful in Ohio that uses only paper ballots. But this old school trend is making a major comeback.

“In a computer generated election world, you’re still relying, that computer is programmed correctly and they’re tabulating them right,” said McDonald.

Fear of cyber-attacks and election meddling McDonald says, is moving voters to want a more tangible tally. Not to mention, software issues and unreliability have scared a lot of precincts away from the touch screen, computer based voting system.

Also, the traditional long lines you see every Election Day? Well they’re a lot less likely when paper ballots are being used.

“As in a touch screen, computer voting system, you’re only going to have 10-12 voting booths within a location, here you could have 50-60,” said McDonald.

For now, most counties in the U.S. are using computer based voting systems. But officials at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections think in a couple years, the entire state will be voting with paper ballots.