Outdated Voting Machines Must be Replaced & Paper Ballots Required to Safeguard Mississippi Elections

From the Board of Common Cause Mississippi, Lynn Evans Board Chair

All Mississippi voters have a right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. But as Tuesday’s election showed us, our voting systems in Mississippi are in desperate need of updating to ensure our elections are free and fair.

Of Mississippi’s 82 counties, 70 continue to use voting machines that do not produce any paper ballot or record. That means there is no way for voters to check that their ballots are marked correctly. And there is no way for the officials to check if election results are correct. This became a big problem in Tuesday’s gubernatorial Republican runoff election, where there were many reports of machines switching the voter’s choice to a different candidate. If nothing is done to replace these unreliable voting machines, they will be used in the 2019 general gubernatorial election and the 2020 presidential election.

There is a very simple and cost-effective solution that Mississippi election administrators must move to, hopefully before the November 2019 general election: switching to voter marked paper ballots. According to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election security advocacy organization, eight counties in Mississippi, including the four most populated, already use paper ballots for voting.

Many of Mississippi’s machines are old and outdated. Like other technology, as these machines age, they stop working as intended. When voting machines break down or malfunction, they need to be taken out of service and this can cause long lines at the polls as there are fewer machines to serve voters.

It is past time for Mississippi to retire these old machines and switch to a voter marked paper ballots. In addition to being more efficient and cost-effective, paper ballot -based voting systems are more secure from cyber-attacks as the paper ballot itself is the record for how the voter cast their ballot and paper cannot be hacked.