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Vote 'no' on paper ballots

Published: Thursday, May 24 2007 12:16 a.m. MDT

Should the state of Utah be forced to lay out millions of dollars to create paper "backups" of its electronic voting ballots?

No.

The idea is the brainchild of people — on a national level — who are uncomfortable with advances in technology. And besides, experience has shown that paper ballots can be an even bigger headache than the electronic versions.

The concern is understandable, of course. New inventions make nervous Nellies of us all. People once feared that microwave ovens would make them sterile or that garage door openers might lead to cancer. Humorist James Thurber recalled that his mother would never leave light sockets open in the house because she was convinced electricity would leak out, costing her money and threatening her health.

Such things are often the source of urban folk legends. Trepidation before the unknown is a natural human reaction.

Overcoming that trepidation, however, is the mark of education and understanding.

Right now, some people are worried there are gremlins in the current voting machines — that electronic voting is unreliable and open to tampering. They spout anecdotal evidence of irregularities here and there to fuel their fear and want paper ballot backups to fend off any conspirators. It's the same kind of itchy-witchy thinking that leads people to hide bags of money under their mattresses.

And dare we say that almost all of those those skittish souls are likely older than 40? The younger generation sees the outcry for the tangible comfort of paper ballots as a hallmark of the fuddy-duddy. The notion sounds, to young ears, like people demanding election results be chiseled into granite for security.

We agree.

Utahns do not have the time, money or obligation to create a "security blanket" of paper ballots for Luddites to wrap around themselves in the night. The electronic voting era is upon us. Our state leaders have done a superb job of getting the new system up and running and trouble-shooting glitches as they have surfaced.

We suggest a little more faith and a little less fright.

Those wringing their hands should take a couple of aspirins and relax by counting their mattress money.

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