During yesterday’s Wisconsin primary election, a number of paper ballots were sent out in several counties that were reportedly too wide to be tabulated by the computerized optical-scan systems used to tally ballots in the state. The same exact thing happened just two weeks ago during the Illinois primary sending election officials into a panic and causing delays for some voters. Then, as now, the problem has been chalked up to a paper-cutting error by the printers. Perhaps that’s true, perhaps it’s not. We’ll take them at their word, barring evidence to the contrary. Innocent errors can and do happen. But whether that’s an accurate explanation or not, one way in which the failure was dealt with in both Illinois and Wisconsin continues to be extremely troubling and, frankly, offense: the practice of election workers manually “remaking” the ballots of voters after the election, in ostensible secret, and before they are tabulated.
… It has become standard practice across the country for election workers to actually create new ballots, by hand, out of ballots that cannot be read by optical-scan tallying computers. The workers either “remake” those ballots correctly or incorrectly. Who knows?
In some cases over the years, in places where touch-screen voting machines are used, but have broken down during the day — or in cases were voters preferred to use paper ballots, if allowed — votes cast on paper ballots are later actually punched into touch-screen e-voting systems by election workers. Again, the workers either carry out that sensitive, fraught-with-error operation either correctly or incorrectly. Who knows?