|The head of the South Carolina Election Commission said the state’s new upgraded voting system will have paper ballots which offer tangible evidence of votes.
University of South Carolina computer science professor Dr. Duncan Buell testifies on voting systems before a Senate subcommittee (Source: SCETV)
“Let me say up front South Carolina’s next voting system will have a paper record of every vote that is cast,” she told the subcommittee.
The commission is seeking state approval of its plans to purchase a new statewide voting system. Requests for Proposals were issued in December. Andino expects the new system to be in place by January 1, 2020.
“There’s not a system that’s being marketed today that doesn’t have a paper ballot,” she said. “So that’s exactly where we’re headed. Every system that is certified for use and being marketed has a paper record of every vote that’s cast.”
University of South Carolina computer science professor and election data expert Dr. Duncan Buell said while the rest of the world is going paperless, elections need a paper trail. South Carolina has been using a paperless voting system for nearly two decades.
“We need to remove as much technology from the election process as possible because all the technology that has been put into the process in the next 18 years or so has been shown to be way lower in quality than what I think the electorate has the right to expect,” Buell said.
Buell was asked to present his expertise on voting systems to the subcommittee by the League of Women Voters.
The subcommittee was discussing two bills related to elections, one requiring voting machines to produce a paper receipt or ballot and another regarding post-election audits.
State Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, drafted the bill requiring paper ballots.
“We get one chance probably, to get it right for the next possibly two decades,” he said. “So we need to make sure we do it in a way that gives our constituents and our voters confidence that their votes are being counted. They can go back and be checked if there’s an error or some sort of event that would warrant an audit.”
But State Sen. Michael Gambrell, R-Anderson, questioned if legislation was necessary to establish standards for voting machines when they will be part of the final budget.
“Do we need this bill or a budget proviso?” he asked.
McElveen and subcommittee chair Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, agreed.
“It’s really difficult to interject legislation into the procurement process,” Campsen said. “I really think it’s an executive branch function.”
The subcommittee voted to carry over the bills.