Voting Open Forum

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COLUMBIA - A town forum at the Columbia Public Library Sunday focused on issues within the voting system.

The event featured Boone County clerk Taylor Burks and former UM system computer programmer Glenn Nielson. 

Burks said his goal was to promote a sense of security among Boone County voters.

"My hope is to assure Boone County voters that the way do things here is open to scrutiny," Burks said. "You can look at how we do things, we have a lot of processes in place to make sure your vote's counted and we have free and fair elections."

Burks and Nielson both addressed voting security issues within Boone County and nationally.

Nielson served on a committee, formed by former Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt, designed to improve voting processes within the state.

He said that while technology can be used to facilitate votes, he believes a hard copy result provides better protection against voter fraud.

"It's just too hard to verify if the computer is accurate," Nielson said. "That electronic voting needs to generate a paper product that can be saved and recounted. You see in the news how people can take control of a plane through the in-flight entertainment system or a car through the Bluetooth, and that could happen with [voting systems]."

Burks said voter fraud is not a significant issue in Boone County elections, in large part because of the work of his predecessor, Wendy Noren.

"She was intimately involved in a voter fraud investigation and then forwarded those names to the FBI," Burks said. "We have a system of staff and procedures in place that can usually prevent it before it happens."

Burks replaced the recently retired Noren in August.