Secretary of State Mike Mauro wants every precinct in Iowa to have an optical scanner that reads paper ballots. Legislators should listen to him, even though the plan would cost $9.7 million, according to the Des Moines Register.
A new state law says there has to be a paper trail, leading some to call for retrofitting touchscreen machines with windows that would let voters view a "receipt" to confirm their votes. This "verified paper audit trail" would cost about $2 million to put in place, but I'm with Representative Pam Jochum of Dubuque, who says it would be a "total waste of money" to retrofit touchscreen voting machines.
Mauro pointed out Wednesday that any such system could be obsolete in two years because of pending federal legislation that could change requirements for voting machines.
Iowa needs to find a way to fund Mauro's proposal, so that we have secure voting procedures and paper ballots that can be recounted if necessary.
Although no voting system is perfect, the recent recount in New Hampshire showed lower error rates in precincts using optical scanners than in precincts that counted ballots by hand on election night.
Touchscreen voting is a disaster in the making, not only because of the potential for tampering but also because it leaves nothing to be recounted in case of a disputed election.
By the way, I had previously reported that New Hampshire would recount all the ballots from the recent primary, but in fact Dennis Kucinich only put in $27,000, enough to recount about 40 percent of the ballots. The recount has now ended, having revealed no significant changes in vote totals for the candidates. Click the link for more details.