It’s caucus time in the United States, and as heated as all of the presidential debates have been lately, we’d like to bring up one point of debate that has yet to be touched on—the best medium for casting and counting those all-important votes in November. Of course, we have our own opinions, but in the spirit of American democracy, we wanted you to be able to decide for yourself which form of voting you believe to be best. So here are our 2 nominees and a bit of information about their different platforms.
Paper voting ballots are a time-tested means of casting and counting votes. Using them is straightforward and easy to understand for any voter. Ballots have also proven to be adaptable, even in today’s world of changing technology, because they can be counted and tallied in different ways. For example, even when they are filled out by hand, ballots can be counted by machines in order to tally votes more quickly and effectively.
Another benefit of the paper ballot is that it leaves a very obvious paper trail, so if recounts are needed (anyone remember Florida in the 2000 election?), it is much easier to go back and double check every ballot.
Of course, this nominee has its share of weaknesses. For one thing, people are more prone to making mistakes when filling out paper ballots, especially for absentee voters. This can cause a lot of hang-ups when it comes to counting the final votes. It is also a time-consuming process. In a world where people want instant gratification, fewer and fewer people want to tediously fill out a paper ballot by hand; this could possibly affect voter participation rates.
Since 2000, a large number of counties in the United States (as well as many countries around the world) have made the switch to electronic voting machines. These pieces of technology make the voting process faster and easier, and they eliminate most human errors. In fact, some machines will even pre-fill a ballot based on a voter’s party affiliation; of course, the voter can then change any pre-filled sections if they wish, but it can save a lot of time for the voter and help keep lines shorter on voting day.
But this nominee has proven to be a bit inconsistent since it first stepped into the limelight. Technology doesn’t have a very long lifespan, and so the equipment used for electronic voting must be replaced ever 10 – 15 years; obviously, that is quite a big expense for any county to handle. And of course, technology is prone to its own problems, and many people have expressed concerns about computer errors causing miscounts in voting, or hackers altering the machines to rig voting.
Additionally, recounts are made difficult without the presence of a paper trail; all officials can really do is press the button and hope the machine gives the same number, since there are no paper ballots for a manual count. However, voters seem to prefer using technology because of its simplicity and speed.
Online voting has also become a popular option, especially for absentee voters. It allows them to quickly and easily fill out a ballot without worrying about having to mail it into their home state to be counted. It is believed this can encourage more people to vote, improving voter participation rates.
What’s Your Vote?
So what’s your vote? Do you think the old-fashioned way is best? Or is it time to start testing out new technologies to simplify the voting process? Either way, technology is always going to have an impact on the way we cast our votes, even if that just means a different way of counting paper ballots. Contact us and tell us what you think!