The Centre County Board of Commissioners will vote tomorrow on whether the county will get new voting machines. These new optical scan machines will assure a concrete paper record of all votes cast, opposed to the records kept by the touch-screen machines currently in place.
The issue at hand is whether the county should lease and/or purchase these newer machines, which would cost the county at least $1 million. Commissioners who oppose the switch believe the current machines may not be the best available, but the touch-screens are still efficient, and it's not worth the cost to make the switch.
If the county wants to function effectively, accurate elections must be a priority, regardless of price.
In order to conduct accurate elections, accurate voting machines are a must.
The new machines are voter-verified. This means after someone casts a vote, paper verification would be produced and would enable voters to be sure the correct candidate was selected.
As for the current touch-screen machines, not only is there no quality paper verification available if needed, but even during the initial voting process, the screen can present issues. Voters may believe they are voting for a specific candidate by pressing one button, but actually be they could be casting a vote for a different person.
And what if someone was able to hack into the technologically based system of the touch-screen machines? Without accurate paper verifications, the entire voting process would be ruined.
We recognize that just because the touch-screen machines may not be the absolute best, it does not mean that they are completely defunct. But when it comes to elections, do we want to take a chance on a potentially flawed system?
There are certain machines that, as long as they get the job done, are good enough. Take vending machines, for example. However, when we live in a world that concerns itself with hanging and pregnant chads, voting machine accuracy is of the utmost importance.
The cost of these machines should not be an issue when trying to hold an accurate election.
And hey, perhaps there is a way to sell the current touch-screen machines, allowing the county to get rid of them without a total loss of revenue.
As for the commissioners fighting to stick with the current machines, it's time to bite the bullet on this one. It's time to realize that unfortunately, buying the touch-screen voting machines wasn't the best decision. No blame should be placed on anyone for the initial purchase, but pride should not prevent board members from implementing these new machines.