States weigh return to paper ballots - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

States weigh return to paper ballots

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A worker checks a voting machine in Indiana last March. A worker checks a voting machine in Indiana last March.

Tom Walker/Eyewitness News

Washington - This could be a year when every vote will matter in Indiana - and how votes are counted is still a hot topic.

Some states are junking their touch-screen electronic machines and going back to paper ballots. Activists for voter rights are among those pushing for a plan to verify votes are counted accurately.

"This is actually very healthy, that voters are waking up and saying we want a more accountable system and I think we should be encouraging that," said Barbara Arnwine of the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights.

A proposal on Capitol Hill would require states using electronic systems to have some way to double check their accuracy and to audit the vote in federal elections.

Some, like Indiana Secretary of State Tod Rokita, see problems.

"The technology doesn't exist," Rokita said. "I mean, we really are talking 'Star Wars' here."

Indiana's top elections official told senators that conducting what amounts to a recount of elections, whether close or not, could cost millions. He says machines are not the issue.

"And I maintain that if you have a well-trained pollworker and you have a good process, you're going to have a good election," Rokita said.

Others argue the technology already exists for creating a paper trail of every vote cast.

"There's been study after study that says the best way to secure electronic voting machines or electronic counting is with the use of paper ballots," said Voter Action's Susan Greenhalgh.

A new compromise plan on Capitol Hill stops short of requiring a paper record of every vote cast, but elections officials say it still puts a highly unreasonable burden on the states that they would have to pay for.

A Senate proposal would require states to comply by the presidential election in 2012.

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