On the EDge: St. George should follow in county’s footsteps with old school paper ballots

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — You can’t trust anybody or anything these days.

Or so it seems.

That’s why I was pleased to learn that St. George residents may be allowed to vote from home via the United States Post Office.

Look, we know for a fact that there was influence directed at U.S. voters last election. How successful the Russian moles were has yet to be determined and how highly up the food chain they reached is still under investigation. Mostly, it was a campaign of influence and lies, something that is still prevalent in our social media. Don’t believe me? Go do some fact checking before you repost some of the specious posts, whether memes or links, that are going around.

But we also know that Russian hackers attacked our electoral system in 39 states last time around in an attempt to compromise the election. We have since learned that the sophisticated voting technology now employed isn’t quite as sophisticated as we once thought and that voting machines – simply computers with voting software – are vulnerable.

Think of the technology available to each and every one of us that allows us to access our computers remotely. Now, think of that software in the hands of hackers, who can do their dirty work from any dot on the globe.

So, until we find a bulletproof solution, it is a very good idea to go back to basics and make our marks on paper, creating a verifiable trail.

At the moment, St. George, Santa Clara and Ivins are the only places in Washington County that have not approved voting by mail.

Read more: Washington County shifting to vote-by-mail system for elections

St. George Mayor Jon Pike says it would cost the city about $100,000 per election for printing and postage, which, it turns out, is far cheaper than refurbishing the old voting machines.

It would be money well spent.

Voting is the lifeblood of our system. It is what gives us the mandate to uphold our basic rights, our Constitution. If some crook or thief with devious, evil intent is seated in office, those rights are in jeopardy, so a credible, safe and impenetrable voting system is our security blanket. Without it, we are nothing more than a minor league player on the world stage.

In the discussion before the St. George City Council, it was noted that there is not only the expense of fixing or replacing the old machines, but the problem of finding enough people to supervise the polling places.

There is a legitimate concern about the possibility of ballots being sent to people who have passed away. A little more effort in researching the voter rolls and maintaining accurate lists would minimize those concerns.

I remember when computerized voting came into being.

It was very confusing for many and who knows just how many people cast votes for people they didn’t intend to elect.

But, it was the state of the art and the system was implemented. We really had no other choice.

There is the downside, of course, in the fact that it might take just a little longer to tally the votes on election night.

But I’d trade expediency for accuracy and legitimacy, wouldn’t you?

I realize we are in an era of instant information, that we want answers and we want them now.

While that may be good if you are Googling to find out who the first quarterback for the Denver Broncos was (does the name Frank Tripucka ring a bell?), who the 13th president was (hint, there is a city in Utah named after him) or who invented the automobile (it wasn’t born in Detroit), our computer-driven society is not better served right now when it comes to voting.

The dirty tricks of politics will continue regardless of how we vote. It’s simply up to us to separate fact from fiction. As long as there are politicians, we have no control over that. But, we can ensure that our votes are accurately collected and counted by going old school and placing our mark on a paper ballot. That’s not to say that older is always better, because it often is not. In this case, though, there is a level of security to ease our minds.

And although we know that neither the Russians nor anybody else really gives a hoot about who wins a city council or county commission seat, the simple act of disrupting the election at any level and the ensuing chaos is a victory because it puts another crack in the credibility of our system.

In a place like Utah, it will hardly matter because of the dominance of the Republican Party. That is, of course, a result of the antiquated and no longer needed Electoral College, an example of how old-school thinking is outdated and, quite frankly, needs to go. The Founding Fathers were not convinced that the public was smart enough to make an intelligent decision regarding who should be president and established it to ensure that the president was duly qualified. It could be argued that it hasn’t always worked out that way. It was also established to give the smaller states the same representation as they had in Congress.

It would take a constitutional amendment to dump the Electoral College, but would be worth the effort because, especially in places where one party holds an extreme advantage, people would like know that their vote was counted and somehow mattered, even if their candidate got kicked to the curb, or to ensure that whoever is declared the winner is a result of the popular vote.

It’s a matter of principle, a matter of trusting the system and despite the backroom shenanigans and shady deals, security in knowing we still had some kind of say in who would govern us.

Last month a group of nine senators introduced a bill that would require state and local governments to use paper ballots with extensive audits to ensure that the ballots reflect the will of the people.

It’s a good idea, at least until we come up with a system that cannot be hacked by those who would tamper with our ballots.

It’s bad enough that they tamper with the information we receive.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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21 Comments

  • Real Life September 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    All for it Ed, as long as you can a: prove you are who you say you are, and b: are a LEGAL citizen of the United States.

    • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 9:00 am

      shouldn’t need to show who you are if you live here and shouldn’t have to be a citizen if you live in the country to vote

      • Real Life September 19, 2018 at 2:16 pm

        Huh???

        • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 3:24 pm

          What ???

          • Real Life September 19, 2018 at 6:05 pm

            Gibberish.

          • iceplant September 19, 2018 at 7:01 pm

            Strike3, you’re out.

        • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 8:03 pm

          What ??? Giberish

          • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 8:05 pm

            LOL ! Like a light switch

  • bikeandfish September 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Agree on paper ballots. Too much going on with hacking now.

    Disagree on changing electoral college. Not that such an amendment would be ratified by the states who would lose power. Going to a straight popular majority/democracy would only lead to further division and partisanship.

  • Kilroywashere September 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Well it didn’t work for Sweeden last week. Their election was rigged for sure! At the 2016 Republican Caucus I attended here it failed, or possibly was rigged, dont know, against likely pro Trump votes. People who dropped their ballots off early were not counted after box was made available when it should have been off limits until the meeting started. We spent almost half an hour deliberating the validity of votes, and the fact the whole thing was an absolute fiasco. So honestly for Washington County it really doesn’t matter or would have that much bearing. The mayor of Santa Clara has runs unopposed for the last two terms, just saying – nice guy. For federal elections, if the Republicans don’t win, we surely know it’s rigged in these parts. Now regarding medical marijuana on the ballot, hmm, there it makes sense when the LDS folks are filing lawsuits etc… But don’t think Mormons have a history of vote rigging, though I’m no expert. But hey if you want to burn $100k per election feel free. I think its a waste for now. And as far as tbe Russians are concerned, how about Obama / Clinton folks spying on the opposition via the CIA thru back channel MI5 brits providing a fake doc so the FBI can get a FISA warrant. How about over turning Citizens United ruling and instituting political campaign reform? Koch Bros are backing groups against building the border wall. And you thought they were Republican donors only, didn’t you Ed? ~ be honest. Think again. More like corporatists to be nice. Just plutocrats that dont care about anything but gaming the system. “Anyway the wind blows” .

  • Happy Commenter September 18, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Paper Ballot at a polling place after showing Legal ID proving you are supposed to be voting..Mail is ripe for fraud..

  • jaltair September 19, 2018 at 1:02 am

    “Happy commenter,” I agree. Voting as it used to be in designated polling places. Signing by your registered name after showing ID and then into a booth, put your ballot in the box, and get an, “I Voted!” sticker to proudly wear.

  • commonsense September 19, 2018 at 6:28 am

    What other civilized democracy allows people to vote without valid photo ID?
    Why do Democrats resist the implementation of voter ID? illegal expansion of its voter base is the answer.

    • bikeandfish September 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Many citizens are against it because of our national history of targeted measures to disenfranchise specific groups. It continues to this day.

      • Happy Commenter September 19, 2018 at 10:29 am

        Real, intelligent and non-liberal CITIZENS are ALL for voter IDs to protect the integrity of our elections. Only those who wish to have a loophole for cheating are against voter IDs. That’s the fact Jack!

        • bikeandfish September 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm

          0% fact, 100% opinion.

          But thx John for the insightful comment as always.

          • Happy Commenter September 19, 2018 at 3:52 pm

            Yours is always opinion, mine is 100% fact, you are right for a change.. you got a flat!

        • iceplant September 19, 2018 at 7:05 pm

          “But… but… but… all those millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election!!!”
          That’s what you really meant to say. Which is to say you meant to say absolutely NOTHING. The illegal voting *myth* is just that and has been debunked over and over and over. But keep trying to convince yourself otherwise. LOL

          • Striker4 September 19, 2018 at 8:04 pm

            Your entitled to your opinion but thats all it is

          • iceplant September 20, 2018 at 5:28 am

            No, Strikeout. I’m entitled to throw the facts around. Sorry that you have a hard time with that.

  • commonsense September 21, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    What targeted measures BF? California Democrats wants illegal aliens and incarcerated felons to vote just to increase its voter base. Any citizen can easily obtain a voter photo ID.
    Does the public know that many states don’t require any form of voter ID? They, of course, are blue.

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