FILE - Election day vote

Louisiana will be the only state in the nation that won’t keep any paper records of ballots cast on Election Day this fall, according to a new report.

Along with the state’s aging voting machines, the lack of a paper trail could threaten the integrity of the state’s election, argues David Hawkings with The Fulcrum, a news organization focused on “the dysfunctions plaguing American democracy.”

“It will surely be the only state running totally afoul of the new world of balloting best practices, which says creating and keeping a paper record is the only way to assure every vote is counted accurately (and recounted if need be) and properly reflects the will of the voter,” he says.

In its report, The Fulcrum relied on a study by Verified Voting, a nonprofit that promotes election integrity. Though paperless machines still are used in some jurisdictions in other states, Louisiana is the only one where such machines will be used statewide on Election Day.

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who runs the state’s elections, hoped to have new voting machines that keep paper records by now. But state officials scrapped the contract he awarded to replace the aging machines, saying his office didn’t follow protocols meant to protect the integrity of the solicitation process.

Ardoin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he has said he is not concerned about election security.

The machines are not connected to the internet, meaning they should not be subject to the kinds of cyberattacks that have plagued state and local governments in recent months. The machines are programmed by Ardoin’s staff, stored in state-owned buildings, and tested to ensure they won’t malfunction on Election Day, he says.

Speaking to reporters after a recent meeting of the Louisiana Municipal Association, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he was confident in the state’s election security.

“I’m never going to say it is absolutely impossible for people to hack into our computers to interrupt the election process,” Edwards said. But he said the voter rolls, not the voting machines, are a more likely potential target.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.