Paper Ballots


Public hand counting of voter marked paper ballots is the only system that allows for full citizen oversight of elections—the foundation of democratic self-governance.


The Bedrock of Verifiable Elections

Paper ballots must be established as the national standard for democratic elections in the United States. 

However, seventeen states use some form of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Touchscreen voting machines that provide no paper ballot.  

In most states where there are paper ballots, they are counted by privately owned, and secretly programmed Optical Scan computers, which are proven prone to error and lost votes, and can be manipulated and rigged to count fraudulently. 

In some states, counting the ballots by hand in public has been made illegal to facilitate the takeover of private computerized vote counting.

While using paper records may sound antiquated to some, the consensus among election defenders and international technology experts is that nothing else provides the needed reliability, security, and transparency. 

The Gold Standard of election process is paper ballots cast in see-through plastic or otherwise untamperable boxes, with all ballots counted by hand in public at the location where they are cast, before they are moved to a central location or stored.

This process alone provides full public oversight and transparency, and produces a vote count verified by all stakeholders.

Where ballots are currently counted by Optical Scan computers, election experts agree that they must then be audited manually, using effective and stringent auditing techniques to verify the machine results.

Jurisdictions currently using unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Touchscreen voting machines that provide no paper have a responsibility to immediately scrap these insecure and opaque systems in favor of a paper based system that can be manually counted, and further audited or recounted for accuracy and to resolve disputed results.

Computerized voting equipment purchased with 2002 HAVA funds is now failing nationwide, making a return to public hand counting a reasonable and even attractive option for cash poor communities that can't afford to purchase expensive new systems.


  • Hand counting provides timely and accurate results.
  • Election Day vote counting can be a job creator for the local community.
  • Public hand counting at the precinct prevents the fraud that can occur when ballots are moved or counted out of public view.
  • Only paper ballots that are marked by the voter’s hand or an accessible non-tabulating ballot-marking device should be used.
  • Ballots should be easily countable. A voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is very difficult to count. Typically produced by a receipt-roll printer added on to a Touchscreen machine, VVPATs are hard to read and handle, and have other known deficiencies.