Paper Ballots in the 2020 US Election




Here’s a cause which may be worthy of EA attention: trying to ensure that all U.S. states must use paper ballots in the 2020 Presidential election.

In the 2016 election, most voters did not use paper ballots. And although it is true that voting machines are not directly connected to the internet, they are not as secure as you might think. Also, voting machines were compromised within 2 hours at DEF CON 25.

Furthermore, and in my view most importantly, even the appearance or not-totally-obviously-unfounded allegations of an unfair election can be very dangerous. Particularly when the current president will almost certainly run for reelection conditional on not being impeached, and it is not unfounded to suspect his campaign may resort to intentional attempts to compromise the ballots.

There are other reasons to think the integrity of the 2020 election will be at risk . Russia will almost certainly be at full force attempting to undermine our democratic process (having succeeded this time), and possibly North Korea as well. Furthermore, if you thought Fake News was an epistemic nightmare last year, imagine when Fake Video technology is perfected.          


I believe this cause is tractable but not easy. A few people have created a petition to enforce paper ballots on in the past, without success, which makes me think most people don’t think this is important. However, my intuition says this is something that relatively few Americans would actively oppose. Therefore I think a concerted effort to start early spreading the worth is likely worth of the time spent.