Pennsylvania’s tight congressional special election underscores the need for states to replace aging voting machines and use paper ballots as backups to ensure the integrity of vote counts ahead of pivotal November U.S. midterm elections, election security advocates said on Wednesday.
Voting systems that do not produce a paper backup of a ballot, which election officials can use to check electronic tabulations, are more difficult to audit for signs of tampering or error, according to experts.
The four counties where voters cast ballots on Tuesday are among the 50 Pennsylvania counties, out of a total of 67, that use voting machines without an auditable paper trail, according to Verified Voting.
“With paper, you can recount or audit that paper and carefully check the performance of the voting system, ensuring that the electronic result would match what a full hand count would show,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, an election security expert with the Center for Democracy & Technology.
“Without a paper audit trail, any recount is just like hitting enter on the keyboard over and over again: You get the same answer and you have no clue if that answer is correct,” Hall added.