SALT LAKE CITY—Numerous witnesses testified in a Nevada State Legislature committee Tuesday that state election officials have abandoned efforts to combat concerns about election security by switching to electronic voting machines.
At an early morning hearing, many local election authorities acknowledged that switching to voting machines that allow for partial or total anonymity was the surest way to resolve fears of hackers targeting ballot totals and those with vested interests who may seek to sway votes in which they have interests.
"Today, we hear concerns about the recent large-scale Russian interference in the presidential election, as well as serious concerns about the voters having control over how their votes are counted," state senator Arthur Schulte (R-Saddleback) said during the nearly three-hour hearing, before commissioners unanimously voted to replace paper ballots with a standardized touchscreen voter-verifiable paper audit trail to enhance election transparency. "It is highly possible that a hacking or physical tampering problem remains hidden from the American public. It is best that we maintain the integrity of our elections, and elect those who will, in turn, protect our voting systems from further influence.”
“We're really a step ahead of other states that are out there trying to figure this out," Schulte added.
The Governor's election security commission also announced it had granted Nevada one additional permit to conduct in-person, but absentee, voting in the state, with the hope that small glitches in the electronic scanning and recording of paper ballots could be remedied in private during the agency's transit to a separate voting machine in the back of a vehicle.
In a public statement released on Tuesday, Commissioner Ted Sande called the move a pragmatic one.
"We hear of all kinds of problems with electronic voting machines, from those who distrust machineized casting, to those who think they don't make mistakes,” Sande said. “But like I said at our first meeting, these doubts could end up only being about confidence and lack of paper evidence or other evidence of its non-intent. We can create an additional solution to that challenge.”
“We will not be fooled by issues with a high-tech voting system,” Sande added. “We will get to the bottom of all the problems, and on Nov. 8 we will end up with the most transparent and revealing ballot in our history."
Some county election officials said they were concerned with the likelihood that switching to machines that allow for full anonymity would eventually lead to the disenfranchisement of some voters, as the elderly, the young, and poor could likely not afford the cost of the machines, and many voters could not afford the taxis necessary to transport them to the polls after work.
A spokesperson for the New York City Board of Elections and another representative from Chicago said the difficult decision to replace paper ballots with a ballot paper audit trail was imperative, noting that many of those counties’ paper ballots were riddled with errors.