“Chad” isn’t just a name for baby boys.
That’s what I learned from the 2000 presidential election. In fact, a chad can be pregnant. A chad can be dimpled. And, depending on how many of its four corners remained attached to the Florida voting ballot, there were also hanging chads, swinging chads, and tri chads.
Thousands of such chads infested the election with controversy, especially because the entire outcome came down to that one state, whose governor just happened to be the brother of the candidate who ultimately won.
It became an international embarrassment that at the dawn of the 21st century, paper ballots were still being used to elect the leader of the free world, and that they were often being counted by hand. In 2002 the Help America Vote Act provided federal funds with which states were able to buy counting scanners with which to count paper ballots, and direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs), which are basically portable computers, some of which still utilize a paper display. But many display the ballot choices on their own screen, permitting the voter to make his or her selection by touching the screen or with the push of a button. The machine then records the votes.
The earliest DREs recorded votes exclusively on internal memory units. But the computer science community actually pushed back hard against the elimination of paper. A computer forensics expert named Rebecca Muri , and computer scientist Roy Saltman publicly warned about the security vulnerabilities of purely electronic voting systems. And in 2003, Stanford computer science professor David L. Dill founded the Verified Voting Foundation, which has resulted in many machines using a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) that can be utilized for audits and recounts.
Then, in May of this year the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report concluding that in 2016 Russian cyber actors surveilled about 20 state election systems with the intent of undermining confidence in the U.S. voting process. As a result of that report, dozens of states announced that they would use only paper ballots in this year’s election. But there are still five states whose systems are completely paperless: Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Delaware.
“Gotta get that paper y’all
That’s right, uhh
Uh-huh uh, yeah, Roc-A-Fella, yeah
Paper chase y’all, paper chase WHAT? Uh”