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Maybe paper ballots are the answer

Problems with poll books and voting machines in some parts of the state will leave the loser of Tuesday’s gubernatorial runoff with plenty to gripe about.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that voters in Lafayette County had trouble voting for their preferred candidate. Voter Ethan Peterson says he went to vote for Bill Waller Jr. in the Republican governor’s runoff, and the electronic ballot was already marked for Tate Reeves. Peterson told The Associated Press he tried several times to make the machine accept his Waller vote before he asked for help. He says he and a poll worker eventually figured out how to clear the Reeves vote so he could vote for Waller.

That wasn’t the only problem. Video posted by a voter shows what appears to be a touch-screen voting machine changing a vote for Waller to a vote for Reeves. The voter tries more than a dozen times to cast a ballot for Waller, but the machine marks the vote for Reeves.

Officials in Lafayette County said the machine was replaced after the problem was discovered.

According to media reports, machines in Calhoun County had a similar problem. One voter reported trying to vote for Waller but instead the machine marked it for Reeves.

In Hinds County, electronic poll books malfunctioned. Republican electronic poll books were not showing voter history — which primary a person voted in on Aug. 6.  People who voted in one party’s first primary three weeks ago are prohibited from voting in the other party’s runoff.

Poll workers resorted to using paper records to clear up the matter.

Election issues are inevitable, but when machines start changing voting choices, the public quickly loses faith in the process. It appears the issues in Lafayette and Calhoun counties were handled quickly, but how many more machines in other counties had similar problems?

Thankfully, no such problems were reported in Lincoln County.

Election officials, including parties operating primary elections, must ensure that voting machines are working flawlessly. If they can’t, then it’s time we went back to good old paper ballots.

It may take longer to count paper ballots, but accuracy is more important than speed in this case.