Why Not Use Mechanical Voting Machines?

The U.S.A has spent millions of dollars “upgrading” to electronic voting machines and the results are not good. Our elections these days are a mess. These new electronic machines have created a myriad of problems that frankly did not happen with the old mechanical voting machines.

The new high-tech electronic voting machines are subject to the same problems that we experience with any computer device these days. Computers lock-up or fail in many ways. All of us who own these devices have experienced these problems. What exactly is a computer virus anyway? Computers can be hacked and we are spending millions of dollars to fight this continual threat with these electronic voting machines. By the way, I never heard of one of the old mechanical voting machines being hacked by a Russian. One of the silliest aspects of the new “High-Tech” machines is that they still require paper ballets, You know, like they used back in George Washington’s time. Paper ballets create their own set of problems. You probably recall the “hanging chad” fiasco during the 2000 Presidential election in Florida??? Paper ballets were the cause and they had inspectors sitting around looking at holes in ballets that people had incorrectly or incompletely punched to try to decide how a person intended to vote. I read that in 2018 when recounts are necessary, election inspectors now sit looking at little black dots that people colored in on paper ballets to “interpret” how a voter intended to vote. Are you kidding me?

Now, I am no expert on the old mechanical voting machines but my wife, Paula knew quite a bit about them having served as an election inspector for over three decades. I remember her telling me that the old machines were foolproof, could not be hacked and just worked! She said they were a marvel of simplicity that required no electricity or connection to the internet.

Many younger people have never experienced the thrill of going into one of these old mechanical voting machines. Here is what I remember. You walked into the booth and pulled a lever that mechanically closed a curtain behind you for privacy. The ballet was presented clearly in front of you with little switches that you physically flipped to make your selection. If you made a mistake, you just flipped the switch back up and flipped another. When you were certain that all of your choices were right, it was time for the grand finale. You reached up and pulled down on the master lever and with a loud ding and clunk, the machine recorded your votes and the privacy curtain magically opened.

My wife believed in the importance of integrity of the voting process. She believed that the process should be simple to understand and easy to do. Most importantly, she believed that people had to feel certain that the vote that they cast was kept private and that it in no way could be manipulated or stolen. My wife said that the old mechanical machines provided all of these things and more. The simplicity and reliability and genius of those old machines was that they were mechanical. I believe it is time to cut our loses and get rid of the hackable, complicated, cyber-mysterious electronic voting nightmare. Lets return to mechanical voting machines!

Tim Stockman is a South Dayton resident.