With South Carolina poised to acquire a new election system to replace the mid-2000s system bought with federal funds, now is the time for citizens to get involved in what should be an open, transparent acquisition process. I recently chaired the annual conference of the Election Verification Network, which focused on the similar choices that local election officials face the nation over. The usual vendors are offering very few options, but virtually all jurisdictions are abandoning direct recording electronic systems like South Carolina’s and again adopting paper ballots that can be viewed by the voter, sampled and audited afterward, and provide a simpler system for poll workers.
Voters should encourage South Carolina to be part of the national move back to paper, which would allow them to again that their votes were cast as intended and counted as cast. We should also encourage a serious look by legislators and the State Election Commission at the new STAR-Vote system being developed for Travis County, Texas (including Austin). STAR-Vote will use commodity hardware and high-integrity, high-assurance computational methods in a ballot-marking device. The official ballot is a marked paper ballot that the voter can examine before it is scanned by an optical scanner.