The Ridiculous and Outmoded Way America Holds Elections

This year, I took up the challenge to "put your money where your mouth is" by becoming a Republican election poll worker in my precinct in Ohio.  Having now worked 17 straight hours on the inside of the election process, checking in and processing voters, as well as being one of the two persons responsible for delivering my precincts votes to the local Board of Elections, one irrefutable fact emerges from that experience: the way in which we hold our national elections is ridiculous and inexcusable.  This is the untold story of the 2020 elections and a question everyone needs to ask.

For this national election, Ohio rolled out the SAFE (Secure, Accurate, Fair, Efficient) voting system.  Without boring the reader with nauseating technical details of the whole thing, I'll offer a quick walk-through of the typical voter experience.

The voter arrives and is directed to a check-in station, consisting of an iPad and a thermal printer.  Just before polls open, the iPads are loaded with the most recent, up-to-date voter registration information from thumb drives, delivered under seal, from the local Board of Elections.  The voter presents his driver's license, which is scanned, and the information about the voter is presented on screen to the poll worker, who then verifies the voter by asking him to verify his name and address.  The system displays a digital image of the voter's signature for comparison.  The voter is asked if he prefers a manual (traditional paper) ballot or the SAFE digital ballot.  If the voter information shows that the voter requested an absentee ballot, he is given a provisional ballot to ensure that he cannot vote twice.  NOTE: In my small precinct of 2,866 registered voters, we gave out fewer than fifty provisional ballots, largely due to unmatched addresses, improper ID, or voters who requested absentee ballots that had not been returned before Election Day. Only one person was turned away the entire day, and that was because he showed up with no forms of ID or other information that could be used to prove his identity.  Overall, voters were processed quickly and smoothly.

We will assume the voter chooses a digital ballot, which voters did in my precinct about 95% of the time.  A long, narrow paper has the polling location name and a unique barcode printed at the top, which is handed to the voter, who is directed to the next step in the process, the voter touchscreen station, where he inserts the paper he was just handed.

This touchscreen does not count or register votes.  It presents the voter with his options for all the races in his state.  After he makes (and confirms) his selections, those selections are printed to the paper ballot in a clear, easy-to-read format, which also serves as another chance for the voter to inspect the ballot for accuracy.  After selections are printed to the ballot, the ballot is ejected from the machine directly back into the hands of the voter, who then moves to the final step, which is the drop-off station.

The drop-off station is where the voter submits his ballot (both digital and manual), by inserting it into a scanning device.  The voter retains his ballot through the entire process until this point.  Once inserted, two things happen.  The paper ballot is scanned, with the voters choices written to a thumb drive in the machine, and the paper ballot is then deposited into a ballot box locked and secured into the bottom of the drop-off station.  This is what is important to note: the thumb drive is not the check-and-balance part of the system; the paper ballots in the bucket are.  After delivery of the ballots and thumb drives to the local Boards of Election, the data are extracted (and can be printed out if needed) and used to report results to the office of the Ohio secretary of state, quickly and efficiently, with the paper ballots serving as a physical verification.  Theoretically, the ballots locked in the collection boxes and the thumb drive data should exactly match, and there should not be a record of one without the other.

The average time for a voter to get through the process, start to finish?  Five to seven minutes.  At peak times, no voter had to wait longer than ten to twelve minutes after check-in to cast his vote and go on about his day.

Ohio began early voting (using this system) on Oct. 6.  Voters had (along with absentee and mail-in ballots) almost a full month to vote in advance of the Nov. 3 elections.  We had the same problems other states face with mail-in and absentee ballots and their prompt delivery.  We had the same issues with large voter turnouts.  Because governor Mike DeWine is indistinguishable from Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer right now, we have the same COVID-related difficulties that Democrat strongholds claim to be laboring under.  Ohio processed (according to the current numbers listed in the MSN state tracker) about 5,678,149 votes, which is closely comparable to (but higher than) the numbers stalled-count Michigan is currently reporting at 5,435,173.  Ohio even accounts for the 83,101 people who essentially threw their vote away voting third party, or for Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader.

Yet Ohio was able to declare a winner by around midnight, four and a half hours after the polls closed here.  (Trump won Ohio with 53.4% of the vote, beating Biden by 470,687 votes.)  Compare that to states like Nevada and Arizona, who probably have more wildlife than registered voters (Nevada is currently reporting numbers of about 23% of what Ohio has processed (1,242,459), which maps to Nevada's 6 electoral votes versus Ohio's 18), are still dragging their feet to turn in a result — as are the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and of course Pennsylvania.

Instead (setting aside any accusations or claims of fraudulent votes), these states are struggling with producing a reliable, believable, and trustworthy result, and they are making excuses for not being able to declare a winner.  Additionally, in the case of states such as NV and AZ, they are processing far fewer voters than Ohio did.  What’s the holdup here?  These states are part of the greatest, most technologically advanced nation on Earth, but they can't produce a reliable and timely vote tally?  Why isn't every state using a secure and reliable system such as the SAFE system to conduct national elections?  It's embarrassing; it's inexcusable; and in such tumultuous times as these, it's indefensible.  The SAFE system packs away into a single large metal cabinet on wheels and is easily transportable and positioned.  Setup (or pack-up) of this system takes less than 30 minutes.  It's the ideal voting solution for the 21st century, in a country that counts votes in the hundreds of millions.  Its accuracy and ease of use are what allows states like Ohio to get to the finish line accurately, and on time.  It allows the voter to keep his vote in hand, from start to finish, with no interaction from poll workers or political observers.  It does not require an enormous army of vote-counters working in shifts to turn in the questionable or possibly illegitimate results we are currently seeing in hotly contested states that have yet to declare a winner.

The American people should not have to wait days, weeks, or possibly months to find out if they're going to continue to make America great again or to descend into a socialist hell.  We should not need an army of lawyers to pore over paper ballots to include or exclude votes of questionable origin.  We should not need to have the SCOTUS decide the issue as it did in 2000.  No matter what side of the divide a voter resides on, we all deserve better than this absolute, inexcusable train wreck of an election, and the endless, 24/7 depressing coverage of it by a corrupt media establishment.  Using a voter system such as Ohio's SAFE system, we should all have been able to wake up this morning, knowing what the future will bring.

I am proud of Ohio today, because the Buckeye State leads the rest of the nation in how to sensibly conduct a free and fair election, to get it right, and to get it done in a timely fashion.  All Americans, in all states, should be demanding the same.

Gabe Williams is an avid reader of AT and occasionally posts comments under the name Magishan.

Image: Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Correction: A previous edition of this article implied that Ohio abolished the secret ballot, which is not the case.  American Thinker acknowledges the lack of clarity and has corrected it.

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