Analog Voting: Why Paper Ballots Are Making A Comeback

Denton County is spending around $9 million to revert its voting system to paper.

July 7, 2017 10:42 am

Election officials in one Texas county are set to turn back time and revert to paper ballots after what some reporters called a “disastrous” experience during the November elections.

Denton County Election Administrator Frank Phillips says his county recently approved $9 million to help the county transition back to paper. And the reason goes beyond last fall’s election.

“What happened in November is not what spurred the desire for paper. In Denton County, anyway, especially the Republican party, have been wanting to be all paper for many years,” Phillips says.

He says both parties have had a desire to return to paper ballots so that there’s a hard-copy  trail in the event of a recount.

Using an all-paper ballot system in the past wasn’t easy. Phillips says it involved printing every possible ballot style and having them ready in time for early voting, at every polling location.

“That’s just a logistical nightmare,” he says.

Phillips says it was also a waste of funds because, inevitably, thousands of ballots would never be used.

He says the new paper-ballot method is better.

“It’s a true ballot-on-demand system. We don’t have to pre-print ballots so there’ll no longer be, number one, the cost of pre-printing those ballots, and number two, the long-term storage of those unvoted ballots,” Phillips says.

In this system, he says the ballot will be printed once a voter checks in at a polling location.

Phillips is confident in electronic voting, despite recent worry over hacking. He says election administrators are comfortable with electronic voting because they know the ins and outs of the technology. The move to paper, he says, is more about improving public faith in the system.

“There’s a perception of How do I know that the vote I cast on an electronic machine is really recorded that way,” he says. “Because the perception exists, this removes that doubt.”


Written by Caroline Covington.