Paper ballots were the big talk of the day at yesterday's California voting equipment certification hearing. I'll have more to report on that later, along with links to news coverage.
Meanwhile, over in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson is getting ready to sign a bill mandating paper ballots for his state in a live webcast. The event is being organized by his re-election campaign, and the webcast is supposed to be available from this page, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern.
With the signing of the legislation, New Mexico becomes the 26th state to require paper ballots or voter-verified paper audit trails at the polls. This move also will reduce the number of paperless electronic voting machines used in the nation, since two-thirds of New Mexico's counties currently use this kind of voting equipment. Richardson is also calling on political leaders in other states to get on board. Below is an excerpt from his "Open Letter" to state officials. The full text is available from the link above.
On March 2, 2006, I will sign a bill that will transition New Mexico to an all paper-ballot system using optical scanners to count the vote. Paper ballots are the least expensive, most secure form of voting available. Having marked their votes with pen and paper, voters will walk out of the booth and know their voices have been heard. Optical scanners will quickly and accurately provide results, while in the event of a recount, the ballots themselves will be a permanent, verifiable record of the people’s directions to their government.
Some believe that computer touch screen machines are the future of electoral systems, but the technology simply fails to pass the test of reliability. As anyone who uses one can attest, computers break down, get viruses, lose information, and corrupt data. We know this to be the case, and so we back-up our files to ensure nothing important is lost. Paper ballots serve as the ultimate back-up for our elections, providing secure and permanent verification of the will of the people.
New Mexico has chosen paper ballots as the best system to secure our election process. With the new system in place, future elections will be secure, honest, and verifiable. Every vote will count and the citizens of our state will know that their government belongs to them.
One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and immediately. American citizens once took for granted that every vote mattered, but no longer. It is time that we, the elected state officials, work to restore American’s confidence in our electoral systems and undertake reform that moves to eliminate skepticism and uncertainty.
When a vote is cast, a vote should be counted. With paper ballots we will have a record. With paper ballots the fundamental principle of one person, one vote is safe.