Episode 128: ADM for Oct. 22, 2022: Hand Counting Ballots Takes Longer, is Less Accurate, and Costs More. So Why is It Being Proposed Around the Country?
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Hand Counting Ballots Takes Longer, is Less Accurate, and Costs More. So Why is It Being Proposed Around the Country?
NPR - Hand-counting ballots may sound nice. It's actually less accurate and more expensive
Associated Press - Some in GOP want ballots to be counted by hand, not machines
Nevada Independent - How should Nevada hand count ballots? Nye County, state election officials disagree
MIT Election Data & Science Lab - Voting technology
MIT Election Data & Science Lab - Learning From Recounts
Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project - Using Recounts to Verify the Accuracy of Vote Tabulations
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Few election officials would ever recommend counting ballots by hand unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s long, tedious & expensive work which is prone to error. Yet that’s exactly what’s being promoted by 2020 election deniers around the country.
Over the last year, several state legislatures have considered hand-count bills, including New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Washington and West Virginia, fueled by conspiracy theories that optical ballot readers have been hacked.
In July, a long-time Nye County, Arizona election official resigned along with her staff, citing false allegations of fraud based on these conspiracy theories. Then in August, the county commission decided to hand count the ballots from the county’s 32,000 registered voters.
Election experts point to multiple studies by the MIT Election Data & Science Lab and other researchers, showing where optical reader results were compared to hand recounting. The difference is so tiny, it doesn’t justify the time and expense of hand counting, which can take hours or even days longer, and adds substantial additional expense. A Wisconsin hand recount in the 2016 Presidential race found error rates for Donald Trump at 0.159% and Hillary Clinton at 0.161%, which had no impact on the outcome and an expense of over $3 Million dollars.
The interim Nye County clerk, Mark Kampf, is proposing a parallel process, which will use tabulators and hand counting. The State of Nevada, meanwhile, just proposed forms and standards for hand counting.
Articles and election technology studies are linked at AmericanDemocracyMinute.org
For the American Democracy Minute, I’m Brian Beihl