State lawmakers favor elimination of touch screens for voting
COLUMBIA - Touch screen voting could be coming to an end due to House Bill 2208.
House members voted 108 - 31 in favor of the proposal that would require voters to use paper ballots exclusively.
Concerns over U.S. election integrity intensified in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
Due to fear of fraud, places like Virginia have already abandoned touch screen voting and reverted to paper ballots. Georgia has considered a similar measure.
Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said he supports paper ballots because the county already uses them and they have worked well.
“I think there’s a lot of value to having a paper audit trail for your equipment,” he said. “You know with electronic, touch screen devices, you can always go back and look at the coding, but voters have more confidence in a paper ballot and more confidence when you can go back and say yes this is the piece of paper a voter marked.”
Andrea Benjamin, assistant political science professor at MU, said she can see both sides.
“I know there are worries about voting and hacker fraud, but I think the main concern, as someone who studies elections, is who’s going to pay for the paper ballot," she said.
But two state representatives were firmly against the proposal.
Rep. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis, said, “I feel that the touch screen voting that we have now is a good system. I’ve talked to our director of elections in Saint Louis County and I have discussed this in the past and have no concern over any election fraud or anything like that”
Rep. Pat Conway, D-St. Joseph, said, “My major concern is we’re mandating local governments to purchase equipment and purchase a process and we are not going to reimburse them for the cost of that equipment.”
Machines could still be used to count votes and to assist disabled voters in marking their ballots. But systems that only recorded votes electronically would be phased out.