Lafayette County is on its way to becoming the 13th Mississippi county to return to paper ballots for elections.
In 2007, the county moved to using direct-recording electronic machines, reports the Oxford Eagle, which allowed for one-touch voting on digital screens. Last week, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted to begin advertising for systems using paper ballots.
DRE machines were touted to save time and money in tallying vote totals; however, issues with those systems, including lack of paper trails and vulnerabilities to hackers, are seeing counties return to paper systems across the country. That’s especially true as DREs reach the end of their usable lives and must be replaced.
The system the Lafayette supervisors is investigating would include ballot scanners and software to initially count votes from scanned ballots. If questions arise, the paper ballots could be hand counted, a feature not available with DREs, some of which do not provide a paper trail of votes at all. The scanners could also provide instant feedback to voters such as alerting them to not having voted in a particular race or having voted more than once in a race.
In 2018, Mississippi was granted $4.5 million in federal funds to harden its election security, funds that counties could have used to upgrade their aging voting systems. It’s unclear how those funds were allocated.
Currently, 12 of Mississippi’s 82 counties have returned to paper ballots in whole or in part. Those counties—which include Hinds, Madison and DeSoto—hold about half the state’s voting population. Data compiled by Ballotpedia.com show that most states used paper ballot systems as of 2018, often in combination with DREs.See a typo? Report it here.