Voting machine changes needed across the country

By: Jim Brown

After former President Donald Trump lost his reelection in 2024, there have been continuous allegations that election fraud has taken place all across the country. So here is the question. Can voting machine computers be hacked? Can the election process be manipulated? Is there widespread election fraud as many and others allege? I may be a pretty good source to give you an opinion. I did serve for eight years as Secretary of State, Louisiana’s chief elections officer. 

According to every legitimate watchdog group across the country, as well as judges who reviewed allegations in numerous lawsuits, the answer is no. And I would agree. With minor exceptions, I just have seen no evidence that anything improper has taken place in the nation’s election process. But half of the US population mistrust election results. If so many people feel that way, then elections officials need to find out how to rebuild confidence in the elections process.

I was having lunch in the back room of Phil’s Oyster Bar in Baton Rouge a few months ago, where a recognizable face was sitting at the next table. Robert F Kennedy, Jr. started to leave, then proceeded to sit down and visited with our group having lunch. He’s running for president now, and usually garners some 15% of the vote in national polls. Kennedy cannot be elected president, but his voters certainly willhave an effect on who wins the presidency in November.

We talked about the election process and why there is such a lack of confidence in the current system. “US citizens need to know that everyone of their votes were counted, and that their election cannot be hacked”, he told me. “And a large number of voters do not believe that such is the case. We need to return to paper ballots to avoid electronic interference with elections.”

He’s right. Paper ballots were the way we conducted elections for years in Louisiana. In today’s modern age, machines connected to the Internet and even simple electronic machines can be hacked or tampered with. And if there is no paper trail, you can see why voters can be suspicious. If we want to have the gold standard for voter security, then paper ballots are the key.

The overwhelming majority of democratic countries require paper ballots in their elections. According to the Pew Research Center, paper ballot are used in 209 of the 227 countries that re democratic.. For example, the Associated Press reports that voters in France “use the same system that’s been used for generations: paper ballots that are cast in person and counted by hand.”

Under my watch, Louisiana used large and bulky voting machines that had no electronic connections and gave a full paper display of the vote. The machines were opened after being removed back to a warehouse where any citizen could watch a review and final account. No one questioned the process.

And what happened to election day? It’s gone by the wayside. It used to be everyone voted on one day with military exceptions, and those who signed a notarized affidavit that they would not be present on election day. Now we have voting spread out over a month and absentee voting mailed to anyone who asks. It’s become “too inconvenient” to drive a few blocks to a polling location. The US is almost alone in not combining the voting process to one day. So we now have election month.

Right now, there are lots of suspicions about the elections process, both in Louisiana and throughout the rest of the country. If voters are to have assurances that elections are legitimate, changes in the process have to be made. These changes are simply the procedures found in most civilized countries to assure sure voters there will be less fraud and more trust to the system.

One of the ways to rebuild this trust is to use voting machines that provide a counting procedure that use paper ballots. A method that Louisiana used for many years. A simple system that takes us back to the future.

Peace and Justice
Jim Brown

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