Hand counting alone not the solution to election integrity

Some in Nevada want to eliminate machine counting altogether in elections. Not a good idea in our opinion, especially for the United States. Recently they started on an experiment in Nevada, stopped by their Supreme Court, for good reason: <read>

The Nevada secretary of state’s office has ordered the hand counting of mail-in ballots in Nye County, Nevada to stop, after the state Supreme Court said the method violates state law.

In a letter sent Thursday night, Nevada’s deputy secretary for elections Mark Wlaschin told Nye County’s interim clerk Mark Kampf that local officials “must cease immediately” counting ballots. The counting, he added, “may not resume until after the close of polls on November 8, 2022.”

In a statement Friday morning, Nye County spokesman Arnold Knightly indicated local officials still were looking for a way to resume the laborious task – a step they are pursuing as a precursor to potentially ditching voting machines in future elections.

Editorial: The best solution, in our opinion, is machine counting followed by sufficient audits and in close votes full hand recounts.  Why?

  • Hand counting is error prone. It can be accurate,  but accurate counting and totaling across batches, teams, polling places and jurisdiction it just as hard as counting a batch of ballots accurately.
  • Hand counting is time consuming, especially in the U.S. where we have huge ballots with many votes to be counted. It can take many days and hours to count our huge ballots. This adds to how error prone the process can be. We also want the results right away, on election night or shortly thereafter.
  • Are we really ready to pay the price? And end up with just as risky a process? I think not.

But if some insist, then count originally by machine followed soon after by full hand counts. Then batch by batch the hand counts can be matched to machine counts and original hand counts of ballots that could not be counted by machine. Then compare batch totals to the machine totals. And when they do not match, hand count again until the results can be reconciled to determine which count is accurate.

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