Proposal requiring paper trail of all voting criticized

? Some state leaders are decrying a congressional proposal that would require a paper trail for votes cast in next year’s elections.

“This bill is overreaching and does not take into consideration the statutory requirements and deadlines that states have in place to administer and run elections,” said Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh. He added that “federal legislation should not impede on state rights.”

U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, blamed Democrats for trying “to force a one-size, Washington, D.C., solution down the throats of local governments for a problem that doesn’t really exist.”

But supporters of the bill say it is needed to restore confidence in U.S. elections that they said was shaken by the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election.

House Resolution 811 would require that votes cast on electronic machines have a paper record that could be counted in the event of a close or disputed election.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said Douglas County already has a paper trail in its elections. The ballots are marked on paper and then fed into an optical scanner to be recorded.

If there is a dispute, the paper ballots can be recounted, Shew said.

“At any point, I can re-create what happened in that election,” he said.

But in the state’s largest county, Johnson County, voters use touch-screen machines that do not have a paper trail.

County officials there say the cost to refit their machines with printers would be between $1 million and $2 million.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Lenexa, a co-sponsor of the voter legislation, has proposed postponing the changes until the federal government provides the funds needed to pay for them.

The measure would also require random audits of votes in close races.