Alan Vera has come out and tried to defend Chairman of the House Elections Committee Stephanie Klick for killing the marquee election integrity bill of the legislative session. It was a fool’s errand.
Below is a point by point rebuttal of his article published in the Texas Scorecard.
1. Paper ballots have been and can still be counterfeited/corrupted.
Vera misrepresents what was being called for in SB9 by suggesting that the paper ballot backups being produced in new electronic/paper systems would be easily counterfeited. This is not the case. In fact, it is the electronic ballots that have been and can still be corrupted. Many voters have little faith in the machines that can change votes with a premature spin of the wheel or not clicking a touchscreen in the exact spot. Holding that paper ballot, verifying the choices before feeding it into the scanner, improves voter confidence in the system. Votes are physical, real and there’s an electronic count to compare.
2. Paper ballots are susceptible to loss and corruption.
With 100% electronic systems, recounts and exposure of potential fraud are nearly impossible. There are no ballots to recount. Recounts will be easier with electronic/paper systems being implemented. In fact, several recounts have occurred in counties using these systems and each has come back exactly to the published results. As for the storage of the ballots, the same can be said for the storage of flash drives and electronic information. Texans want physical ballots that can be physically recounted.
3. Paper ballots can be easily altered.
Paper ballots produced through the electronic/paper systems cannot be altered. The voter makes their selections on an electronic device that then prints their choices. There is no chance for wayward marks or tampering. The voter sees and verifies his/her choices and then runs the paper through the optical scanner. The paper ballot is not hand-marked bubbles but printed names with a barcode.
4. Electronic ballots should be the final authority.
Paper ballots are a tangible record verified by the voter. An electronic record is not. Voters trust the actual ballot record, not the electronic report. If the actual ballot record is different from the electronic record, the election results should change. That is the point of a recount.
5. The unreliability of optical scanners.
First of all, we challenge the assertion of the error rates of optical scanners. However, the error rates of electronic devices make the case for paper ballot backups. The option for a hand count remains when there are paper ballot backups.
Voter turnout increases when voters are confident in the security of elections. An overwhelming majority of Texans want paper ballot backups. The good news for Texans is paper ballot backups are coming in spite of Vera’s efforts.
As was written in an Autopsy Report published to the Texas Scorecard, SB9 was more than paper ballot backups and it’s why Direct Action Texas supported the measure even when that provision was lacking from the bill.
Special Interest Vera opposed the measure in the Senate because of the paper ballot backup provision.
Vera going to bat for Klick does her another disservice by bringing up the delay once the bill was passed by the Senate. First, Klick could and should have had a companion bill to Hughes’s SB9. That bill could have had her lobby-appeasing removal of paper ballot backups. The gutting of SB9 was unnecessarily delayed until April.
Vera, is a self-described “election consultant” as such, his aims and ends should be accurately interpreted as advocating for clients. Undisclosed clients constitute a conflict when lobbying the legislature as Vera has.
Arguing against Vera on the topic of voting system adoption isn’t really a fair fight. Vera is currently lobbying for electronic systems only, a position that may change.
Such a shift at a later date will be noted and drive the final nail in Vera’s coffin of credibility.