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AAAS Joins Call for Paper Ballots to Protect Election Integrity

Paper ballots should back up electronic voting systems, said AAAS in a statement. | Maryland GovPics/Flickr CC BY 2.0

The American Association for the Advancement of Science voiced support for a paper ballot system and accompanying legal framework to protect against potential interference, errors and breakdowns of electronic voting systems, in a series of statements released March 9.

The statements respond to a comment made by President Donald Trump during a March 6 press conference on the importance of a backup to computer-based voting. “It is old-fashioned, but it is always good to have a paper backup system of voting," Trump said.

“We are pleased that the importance of paper trails are being discussed at the highest level of government. As representatives of our disciplines, we encourage U.S. states that still lack paper trails to adopt systems that provide for them before 2018 elections,” said the leadership of the AAAS Section on Social, Economic and Political Sciences, which includes scholars who study election processes.

“The United States is one of the only advanced nations that allows computer-assisted elections without requiring paper ballots to verify votes,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “Multiple lines of evidence have demonstrated that paperless electronic voting machines are fundamentally insecure, leaving open the possibility of interference and errors. Many computer scientists agree that we should implement a national standard that enables our elections to be independently audited.”

AAAS section leadership also called for a comprehensive legal framework to augment a “necessary, but insufficient” paper ballot system and ensure the integrity of the paper trail.

A legal framework “is essential to prevent the outcome of an election being questioned on process grounds,” said the leadership of the AAAS Section on Information, Computing and Communication.

“All voters should have the knowledge — and confidence — that each vote is recorded and counted accurately,” said Holt.

[Associated image: justgrimes/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0]