Voters new to Centre County likely entered the polls Tuesday and reacted with either shock or surprise upon learning that we don’t have electronic balloting here when so many other places do.
It does seem ridiculous that a fairly progressive region does not operate a voting system that is modern, efficient and trustworthy — taking advantage of technology that can be found in virtually every convenience store.
In 2008, the county commissioners voted to dump a fairly new touch-screen system in favor of the scribble-and-scan model voters experienced Tuesday.
That decision came with a $1.1 million price tag for a new system and another $80,000 each year for ballots and hardware support, the CDT reported then.
Two years earlier, the county had approved a plan to spend $1.17 million for a touch-screen system and had found $900,000 in federal grants to help with the cost.
Opponents feared the new system, which did not provide a “receipt” to confirm that a voter’s choices had been recorded.
So, in two years, the touch screens were gone and the clock was turned back.
It could be cost-prohibitive to explore a different digital system, given the money already spent flip-flopping between paper ballots and touch-screens and the costs another conversion would require.
But it’s a conversation worth having — now, well ahead of the November elections — especially if the efficiencies of technology can be paired with paper verification of ballots that would put voters’ minds at ease.