GOP senators kill Democratic push for paper ballot trail in TN voting

Republican state senators have spurned a Democratic proposal to require a paper receipt for all votes cast in Tennessee elections so there would be a paper trail to follow in case electronic voting machines are hacked, reports WPLN.

The bill (SB2090) by Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro of Nashville failed to get a seconding motion when it came up Tuesday in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

The measure had been opposed by state election officials, who say paper receipts are an unnecessary expense. Machines that spit out paper receipts would have cost Tennessee election commissions about $9.5 million up front, and they would have cost millions more to operate.

Mark Goins, the state’s coordinator of elections, says there’s also not much evidence that voting machines are in danger of being hacked.

“The bill would have required nearly 90-percent of Tennessee counties to spend millions in upfront and recurring costs to purchase new voting systems with no clear way to pay for it,” Goins said in a prepared statement. “Just this weekend the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed there is no evidence to suggest vote tallying has been tampered with in any state.”

Lawmakers have been split on the issue largely along party lines. Democrats say paper receipts could serve as a backup count if there were suspicions that vote tallies had been altered. That would give voters more confidence in election results. They also note that Tennessee still has $29 million in unspent funds from the Help America Vote Act, the 2002 federal law that called on states to upgrade their voting systems.

But Republicans point out that voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, so they argue widespread hacking would be difficult — if not impossible — to pull off without detection. That task becomes even harder if voting machines are not standardized, as is the case currently in Tennessee.

Goins says online trolls are a bigger danger.

“The real issue is misinformation being spread through fake social media accounts which erode voter confidence in the entire election process.

Further from The Tennessean:

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, told reporters that warnings from the national intelligence community point to a “serious threat” to the nation’s voting system, and immediate changes are needed in Tennessee to avoid a compromised 2018 election cycle.

He referenced comments from top intelligence chiefs at a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee meeting earlier in the week and called for a paper ballot back-up system to electronic voting machines paid for by $28 million in state-held federal funds.

…Yarbro, D-Nashville, expressed frustrations that his own bill calling for paper ballots stalled.

…”It’s disturbing the Senate appears uninterested in having a conversation about a paper trail, which is pretty essential to the integrity of our elections in our democracy,” he said. “There’s bipartisan consensus in Washington that our elections are under attack by foreign governments with sophistication. It is baffling there is not greater concern from the other side of the aisle on this issue.”

6 Responses to GOP senators kill Democratic push for paper ballot trail in TN voting

  • Avatar
    Pamela DeMatteo-Linn says:

    So, we just wait until we have constitutional crisis then we act???

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    We need PAPER ballots !

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    Bruce T Williams says:

    When dems controlled the elections they refused to even consider paper ballots , now that most counties
    Have republicn controlled election boards , they refuse to even talk about it as evidenced
    By this vote . Our poor cousins In Kentucky have the same voting machines as we do in Knoxville
    But they have been retrofitted that gives you a printout when you vote .! They paid for it with federal funds
    From the 1992 law . I had an election chair tell me that he had rigged the election
    But that I wouldn’t be able to prove it .,if you think it isnt a problem u need to watch the
    Explosive 60 minutes report done over 20 years ago . Google it . Another fear is Soro,s
    Company owns the Corp that manufactures and sells them . Bruce

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    Darryl C says:

    republican senators NEED their heds examined!!! SOROS owns the company that makes these electric voting machines… is that OK??? or who has been bought??? PROOF is what the IRS wants … if u can’t prove what was done, do u SLINK away???

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    Hal V says:

    It’s maddening how many gullible blockheaded brainwashed braindead willfully ignorant morons swallow every crackpot conspiracy theory disemminated on rightwing wacko propaganda sites e.g. the Daily Caller, Infowars, etc., and spread their lies all over the internet. Dear rightwingnuts, your favorite boogeyman George Soros does NOT own ANY voting machine companies, nor does he have any control over them, nor is he remotely connected to them whatsoever. In fact, the two biggest distributors of computer voting machines, Diebold and ES&S, are heavily involved in REPUBLICAN politics.

    The facts:

    Okay now, go ahead and spout your inevitable ‘Argumentum ad hominem’, commonly known as “shoot the messenger” logical fallacies, to attack the truth. (Not to mention the atrocious grammar, spelling and syntax commonly displayed by Trump’s proud “poorly educated” army of paranoid ignoramuses.)

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    Lois Gertz says:

    I hope you don’t mind an outstater intruding with a comment but I have been a Minnesota local election judge for several years and I care deeply about well run elections and the confidence they provide to citizens.
    In Minnesota we have a couple of safeguards I really like. Voters mark a large, about 11″ by 14″, paper ballot by filling in a circle next to the candidate of their choice. The ballots are large print, simple, and make it easy to interpret the voter’s intent. The voter puts the ballot into an electronic ballot reader that records their choices. The paper ballots remain in the counting machine, locked up, and are transported by a judge from each party to city hall at the end of the day. If the election is challenged for any reason, those paper ballots can easily be hand counted.
    The other safeguard I like is that voters can register on the day of the election at the polling place. There are strict rules for what is needed to do so, but the requirements are not insurmountable for poor people.
    The reason I think it is important for people to be able to register at the polls is that if there is a place where our system is vulnerable to hacking it may be in the data base of voter registration. For example, if voters likely to vote for a certain party are deleted from the data base prior to the election and get to the polls to find their names missing, they can still register and vote.
    There are always ways to improve anything and our system gets upgraded every year, which is good.
    However, the goals, for all elections should be: how do we get more people to vote, and, how do we make sure our elections are run honestly, fairly, and openly.
    Thanks for letting me but in. This is an issue I really care about.

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