Don’t freak out about Louisiana’s new voting machine proposals


Don’t freak out. The Secretary of State’s RFP is a solid bit of work. It creates a new audit trail capability that we currently do not have. Regardless of how you feel about the companies submitting proposals, this is a tremendous improvement over what Louisiana has now.

Currently, the voting machines use a tabulation, or increment model. When you cast a vote, the machine just increments, or adds one, to the number of votes it has already received. That model is not auditable. However, the new RFP requires the machine to generate an auditable, paper copy of the actual vote. The voter would be able to see that paper ballot before officially approving it.

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At the moment, the ability to audit machines is a tremendous advance over what we have now. However, there is one thing I’d like to see added to the voting process with these new machines. Once the new machines are installed, and an election comes along, they are supposed to still operate exactly the same way that our current machines operate. That is, they tabulate votes electronically by incrementing them as people cast their ballot. At 9:00pm on election night, it is theoretically possible for enough results to be in for the news media to call the election. That’s where the new process would stop.

If there’s a challenge to the election, the paper ballots would be an audit trail. That’s a good thing. Instead, I believe that the day after the election, all of the paper ballots should automatically be audited and compared with the tabulations the machine came to the night before. It should also be counted using another vendor’s equipment. That way, the people of Louisiana would be assured that not only did an election take place, but that the election was audited and verified to be free from mechanical or software error. This additional process would not guarantee that the election was completely free from fraud. However, it would guarantee that at least the election night counting process was reasonably accurate.

If you’d like to read the press release I’m holding in the podcast, it’s available at this link: There’s also the RFP Facts flyer, which is very similar to the press release. That document is available here:


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