Every day, the news provides more reasons to be concerned about the concept of electronic voting. Whether it’s because of accusations of the U.S. election system being hacked by foreign powers or a general distrust for a system that leaves no paper trail, many people are more suspicious of computerized voting now than they ever have been.
Because of these fears, some experts have suggested taking a significant step backwards to paper ballots for local, state and national elections.
In an opinion piece in USA Today, University of Tennessee professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds published in June of this year, Reynolds argues for just this – a traceable, tangible ballot system that relies less on computer technology than pen and paper.
Reynolds, author of “The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself,” notes that much of the concern regarding paper ballots emerged from the 2000 presidential election, when the infamous “hanging chads” on Florida ballots cast doubt on that state’s results and helped tilt the election victory to George W. Bush.
He notes that many argued the solution to the problem would be fully electronic voting. With no danger of questionable ballots, the challenges of the 2000 election would be removed, they argued. He suggests that instead, we’ve placed too much faith on electronic voting, leading to the concerns of hacking that accompanied the 2016 election.
However, when it comes to localized voting using audience response technology and real-time electronic voting, the concerns with hacking and accuracy don’t apply. These systems use a dedicated, proprietary communications protocol called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology to avoid wireless interference, similar to what is used by your household internet router.
By doing so, the system keeps the voting process and the results secure, while still proving instant on-screen results and comprehensive, auditable reports minutes after the event is over. All without counting, paper cuts or hanging chads.