Your bank might want you to give up those paper statements sent in the mail in favor of an app on your smartphone, and your doctor might keep your medical records on a computer instead of in a manila folder. But New Mexico wants to keep your vote on a paper ballot, and a growing number of states are following suit, ditching paperless elections because of concerns about cybersecurity. Russian hackers, according to election officials, targeted voting systems in 21 states last year, but New Mexico was not among them. Government officials credit New Mexico’s reliance on paper ballots at least in part with making it less vulnerable to hackers and vote thieves. The New Mexico Legislature approved a law in 2006 requiring paper ballots for any election held under state law. All 33 counties in the state now use paper ballots. They are counted with electronic scanners, which create a paper trail that must be stored for nearly two years after most elections.
“It makes it difficult to affect the outcome of an election,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Tuesday.
So, as voting equipment around the country ages and worries continue to mount about the security of America’s elections, New Mexico has ended up ahead of the curve.
“New Mexico was ahead of the game on this,” said Wendy Underhill of the National Conference of State Legislatures. But, she said, computers still support many other parts of the voting process, from voter registration to issuing mail ballots and transmitting the results on election night.