Today, Verified Voting published its policy statement on Direct Recording Electronic voting systems and Ballot Marking Devices. We published this statement because many jurisdictions either have replaced or are in the process of replacing older vulnerable systems. In striking contrast to the last time states replaced voting systems after the passage of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, this time the consensus is that voting systems must have a paper record.
But it’s not enough for a voting system to “check the box” on paper – to print paper records that voters may not even notice or examine. To be trustworthy, elections need to be based on voter-marked paper ballots. Whether these ballots are marked by hand or by device, for them to be considered voter-marked, voters should know what they say!
For Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs), that means the systems, and the procedures around them, should demonstrably support voter verification. They should ensure that voters deliberately and intentionally check their printed ballots carefully enough to detect, correct, and report any errors. It also means that pollworkers should be trained to follow specific protocols if BMDs are not recording voters’ intent accurately during voting.