Some Republicans Want to Count Votes by Hand. Bad Idea, Experts Say.
In an age of computer-driven machines, counting ballots seems archaic and backward. But this year at the Wisconsin state convention, there is a small but noisy minority of delegates—mostly Republicans—who would like to count ballots by hand.
They argue that the optical scanner technology now used in the U.S. and abroad does not provide the level of accuracy and speed needed to count all the votes from all the precincts.
“These machines are great when you need to count five or six, but if you need to count 30,000 or 50,000, then it doesn’t matter if the machine is accurate,” says Dr. Mike Schloss.
“Every computer is a typewriter,” he says. “It’s the human beings, the ones who actually touch and count the ballots, that are important.”
But counting machines do not have all the human weaknesses.
“A machine can be set up to count properly in a single location. In your precinct, you go vote by hand, go back home and get your paper ballot in the mail. The machine has to count the vote and then get you into your precinct,” said Schloss.
“If you don’t have a paper ballot, and you get a machine, then you have to count it again,” Schloss added. “At the end of the day, it’s a machine counting a machine.”
The state’s largest political party is on board, but other groups have not expressed much interest in counting ballots by hand, including the League of Women Voters and the Republican Party.
“I want to make a point about how we view, and how we look at the process, in terms of making sure that everybody gets a voice—but that doesn’t mean that every vote needs to get counted,” said Mark Jansen, co