Voting: Use Optical-Scanned Ballots

Having voted in eight cities, in four states, and once via absentee ballot from overseas, I have had the opportunity in my life to observe a number of ballot forms, requirements, and procedures, and it seems we as a nation should now be at the point where we can agree on standard polling hours, a single ballot form that is difficult to corrupt, as well as methods for counting (or recounting) that insure the highest level of accuracy and integrity.

Polling hours should be uniform. In one city, I went to the polls slightly before 8:00 a.m., but they had not yet opened. While polls open at different times in different places, I never understood why hours were not uniform, such as 7:00 a.m. through 8:30 p.m.

Ballots should always be on paper, so there is a subsequent record for recount purposes. Stated another way, even though the old-fashioned voting machines allowed clerks to tabulate results quickly, they generated no paper trail, and should be abolished.

The paper ballot combined with an optical scan for counting is the best method. It should be mandated everywhere. The paper ballot should be completed by placing scanner marks next to the candidate or referendum choices.

Votes should never be cast by punching holes, as was the case in Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election, where punch cards left hanging chads, and doubts about voter intent.

Following the 2000 election, the Help America Vote Act (2002) was passed. One of its purposes was to help local governments replace punch cards, and lever-based voting machines. The law was a step in the right direction.

Now, officials across the nation should be using optical scanning devices. Hopefully, 2012, a year filled with several very important contests, we be free of election irregularities.

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