Small Arkansas county pivots to using hand-marked paper ballots

by Summer Lane

Photo: Alamy

The conversation surrounding election integrity in America has grown contentious in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. In fact, a majority of voters today believe that cheating is “likely to affect the outcome” of the 2024 presidential election, according to Rasmussen.

In Searcy County, Arkansas, election commissioners voted 6-2 to adopt a new voting system that will switch their county to using hand-marked paper ballots that will be supplemented by a hand count.

According to a report from “Freedom to Tinker,” the ballots will initially be machine-counted before moving to a hand count.

“Hand counting all the ballots might be impractical in larger jurisdictions, but Searcy County has a population of 7828, with 5220 registered voters and 4019 votes cast in the 2020 presidential election, so this machine-count plus hand-count system should work well,” the report explained.

Additionally, an article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette noted that the election commissioners on the Searcy County Quorum Court can now move to approve the new ordinance as soon as September.

GOP presidential candidate discusses paper ballots and election integrity

According to Verified Voting, human hand counters require proactive training. Therefore, hand counting is typically found in counties or jurisdictions with less than 1,000 registered voters.

Critics of hand-counting ballots often argue that the process of training workers for the task is expensive and overly time-consuming.

President Donald Trump advocated for a nationwide return to paper ballots and same-day voting in 2021, arguing that it would be “better than anything you can do.” He additionally suggested implementing a standard requirement of voter ID.

Trump’s 2021 comments directly addressed the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 presidential election, which are not to be confused with absentee ballots. Absentee ballots are generally utilized for those who are physically unable to get to a voting location on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots, by contrast, are automatically mailed out to registered voters (depending on the state) and can be dropped off at a ballot drop box location. Mail-in ballots were widely used during the 2020 presidential election.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has also called for the implementation of single-day voting and paper ballots to move forward on the issue of election integrity today.

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