Paper Backups Backed by Congress?

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Yesterday, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. held a town hall in Fort Worth in which he addressed several election integrity issues, and specifically the implementation of paper ballot backups.

Election integrity was, in fact, the first question put to the Congressman by an audience member. Burgess, representing Denton and Tarrant County, congratulated Denton County on purchasing a voting system based on paper ballots. He acknowledged that purely electronic voting systems are problematic. Gesturing to Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley who had just introduced Burgess, the congressman suggested the audience member encourage Whitley to implement paper ballot backups in Tarrant as well.

Burgess further stated that Congress had an eye toward implementing paper ballot backups in the coming term. He said the system required may be slightly different from the one in place in Denton County, but it would certainly require paper ballot backups.

Paper ballot backups enjoy bi-partisian support and proponents have pointed out the systems would be massively more difficult to rig than a completely electronic or completely paper system.

Following the testimony of Robert Mueller this month, the left has again claimed that Russians will be working to hack elections in 2020. While there is no evidence that Russian operatives have managed to breach vote casting and counting equipment, the persistence of speculation on the topic undermines trust. 

On the flipside, there are many on the right who have claimed widespread faulty election administration due to hacking. To date, proof of en masse vote switching has not materialized but as is the case with Russian hackers, the persistent claims of fraud work to undercut the democratic process.

The Texas legislature in multiple instances during the legislative session failed to mandate the use of paper ballot backups. Specifically, multiple pieces of legislation passed the Senate seeking to implement the backups over the next couple of election cycles but these bills failed to pass in the House. Perhaps the federal government will succeed where our state government has failed.

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