Brad Johnson: Golly, Our Machines Look Good Enough for Me!

You know, I was concerned that some of the machines used to count votes in Montana had been shown to be susceptible to attacks and easily tampered with until Brad Johnson told me that I don’t need to worry. After all, he wrote:

Montana does not use machines to record votes. We use paper ballots – the gold standard of ballot security. Machines are only used to count those ballots.

What does that mean? It’s simple: No matter what goes wrong with the machine, come hell or high water, we will have an absolutely reliable record of every single vote cast.

It’s possible that I am a wee bit simple, but isn’t the counting of the ballots kind of important? I may have my facts incorrect, but I believe that candidates win or lose elections based on this arcane process of counting the ballots. Given the relatively stringent requirements for a recount, those paper ballots may not even become a factor in determining the outcome of a race.

What seems like a more important issue is what would make Montana’s chief elections officer defend a company (Election Systems & Software) that is, according to the Ohio secretary of state, failing to “adopt, implement and follow industry standard best practices in the development of the system.”

It might mean more work and expense for the state and counties, but given how much Republicans in this state moan and cry about voter fraud, doesn’t it seem strange that the Secretary of State isn’t concerned about following Montana’s law and ensuring that the machines that count votes do so correctly?

Johnson likes to talk about the integrity of Montana’s elections and drive around the state for important campaign, eh, office work, but he rarely seems willing to do the actual work necessary to improve voting in the state.

Johnson’s final argument for not making the change is that Montana’s election officials are well-trained. I have no doubt that the people who run the local elections are hard-working and trained, but when the training comes from a Secretary of State who could not even comply with federal Help America Vote Act guidelines, I can’t help but wonder how good the training has been.

It seems relatively simple. If Johnson wants Montana to really have “the cleanest, most secure elections anywhere in America,” he should do his job and ensure it.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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