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Paper ballots are the way to secure elections, voting machine maker says

Election Systems & Software will no longer sell paperless voting machines.

USA - 2008 Presidential Election - Early Voting
Election Systems & Software CEO Tom Burt wants to move away from paperless electronic voting. 
Chris Rank / Getty Images

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

Today, almost everything can be completed electronically, sans physical paper. But Election Systems & Software CEO Tom Burt no longer thinks voting should be a part of that trend. In an op-ed in Roll Call, Burt said his company will no longer sell paperless voting machines as primary voting devices in a given jurisdiction.

"When it comes to the machines that count votes and the people who make those machines, there are a few things that must happen to ensure faith in our system of democracy continues," Burt wrote Friday.

The CEO said Congress should pass legislation that requires voting machine suppliers to submit their devices to more rigorous testing from "vetted and approved researchers." Burt also said the machines may not be connected to the internet and that there needs to be physical paper copies of votes.

"If Congress can pass legislation that requires a paper record for every voter and establishes a mandated security testing program for the people making voting machines, the general public's faith in the process of casting a ballot can be restored. And that's not just a good thing, it's essential to the future of America," Burt said.

Electronic voting has been seen as a way to make casting a ballot easier, but concerns over hacking and election integrity have raised concerns about the technology. Last year, West Virginia was the first state to offer voting by a smartphone app in the 2018 midterm election. Around the same time, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina were the only states relying solely on electronic voting machines that produce no paper record of an individual voter's ballot. Four of those states plan to return to machines that print out a paper record.

Burt wasn't immediately available for further comment.

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