Idaho Sticks With Paper Ballots On Election Day

Nov 6, 2018

An old-fashioned ballot box.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

On November 6, residents from across the country are going to the polls. In recent decades, voters have seen a variety of changes at the polling place—from punch cards to mechanical buttons to computer touchscreens, just to name a few. But still, the trusty pen-on-paper remains in Idaho.

Idaho offers a lot to the prospective voter. There’s online registration, absentee voting, early voting and same-day registration. Old-fashioned paper ballots are still used.


Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said, "Idaho is a 100% paper ballot state. We vote on paper ballots, with one exception. We do have handicapped voting machines, but that’s a very, very small percentage that are actually on a machine and there is no connection of those to the Internet."

Denney said Idaho doesn’t have the concerns of other states that worry more about bad actors hacking a voting machine. Electronic tabulators are used to count the votes, but that those machines are not connected to the Internet.


"Eleven counties, I think," estimated Denney, "still tabulate by hand. They count those ballots by hand. So they do not even use tabulators. But we have counties that go all the way from a population of less than 1,000 up to 300,000 to 400,000, as here in Ada county."

Many states that have moved to electronic voting have paper-trails of some sort. But there are five states that are fully digital and don’t have an auditable paper-trail, potentially leaving them open to hackers. And in three states that rely on paper ballots — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — elections are held entirely by mail.


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