New Hampshire may be first-in-the-nation, but it has been rightfully cautious in adopting new ways to run its elections.
Bedford will experiment with a new gadget on March 14, when town officials use iPads to check in Town Meeting voters electronically.
It’s a pilot program, and Bedford will still have the traditional paper checklist on hand. Secretary of State Bill Gardner convinced lawmakers who wanted to implement the electronic voting book system statewide to proceed slowly.
Keeping the voter checklist electronically might help move voters to the booth more quickly, and provide an immediate count on voter turnout. But the real benefit would be updating voter rolls in real time, rather than waiting months for local checklist supervisors to go through the paper books by hand.
Scanning the identification of new voters would strengthen the state’s voter ID law.
It is vital that New Hampshire not go too far. One of the strengths of the Granite State’s system of elections is that every voter marks a paper ballot, which is preserved for possible recounts. In states with purely electronic touch-screen voting machines, there is no paper trail to determine each voter’s intent.
State Sen. Bette Lasky has already introduced legislation expanding electronic voting books to municipal elections this fall.
We would prefer to see how phase one of this experiment turns out before speeding ahead to phase two.