Bill would create voter paper trail


The electronic voting machines that are currently being used in elections cannot show a voter his or her vote on paper.

But a bill being considered by the Indiana General Assembly would require that, and county clerks believe the legislation will likely be approved.

“I look for it to pass,” Dubois County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock said. “This is probably the hottest bill pertaining to elections that they’re reviewing.”

But, Senate Bill 570 has a long way to go.

“The legislation has been amended several times,” Kippenbrock said. “And the equipment (producing the paper vote) isn’t done and certified yet.”

After extensive discussions and various amendments, Senate Bill 570, which would establish that paper trail, passed out of the Senate Thursday. It now has to go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Part of the bill’s summary reads that “after December 31, 2029, a county may not use an electronic voting system that does not have a voter verifiable paper audit trail.”

The bill actually lays out various requirements and standards pertaining to different areas of election cybersecurity — like requiring the secretary of state to establish proficiency standards for individuals who are authorized to access the statewide voter registration file, and requiring voting system vendors to conduct annual background checks on certain employees and report certain information relating to malfunctions of the voting systems.

With the paper trail, voters would be able to see a black-and-white printout of their selections before they finalize their vote.

“I, as a voter, can see my vote on paper before I hit the red button,” Kippenbrock said. “After I hit the button, the paper would scroll forward (into the machine) so that the next voter could not see who I voted for.” The paper would not have the voter’s name on it, so no one can find out which voter voted for who or what

The paper trail would serve two purposes. “It is a double-check for me as a voter,” Kippenbrock said. “And it is a verifiable paper trail for the county to have as a backup.”

MicroVote, the company that provided the 96 electronic voting machines in Dubois County, is working on the paper gadget that would be attached to the machines. The cost of the paper gadgets is estimated to be $1,500; and each machine would need a gadget. So for Dubois County, that total cost could be $144,000.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson supports the measure. Her department held a conference call with all the county clerks a couple of weeks ago about the bill, stating that the department would provide the first 10 percent of the paper machines to a county. For Dubois County that would be $13,500 for nine machines or $15,000 for 10 machines. The department representative also stated that the department would pursue state funding to help pay for the rest of the machines.

Counties have shared concerns about funding the machines, Kippenbrock said. To accommodate that, the bill has been amended to require that the machines be installed by the end of 2029.

Kippenbrock believes having the paper trail would help the overall voting process by having electronic and paper verification of votes.

“This is the way we can take a step forward at having the best of both worlds,” she said. “There are many things that have to happen to make it go into effect. I feel comfortable in saying that it’s going to. It’s just a matter of getting there and then what are those final details.”

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