When an American citizen walks into the voting booth and casts his or her ballot, it is a sacred duty. We live in a country that is envied around the world for its peaceful transition of power and its free and open elections. Voting is the most patriotic act a person can undertake.

That's why it's so disturbing to imagine that our votes might not count, that there were people who actively tried to hack into ballots in 21 states.

It's particularly disturbing that our president seems unwilling to do anything about it. He said he misspoke when he said Russia did not meddle in our democratic process. But he made very clear throughout a July 2018 press conference that he believes Vladimir Putin when he said Russia didn't interfere.

We can be assured, at least, that our local officials are cognizant of the dangers of interference in our elections and are working to make sure that your ballot counts.

Indiana, which was made eligible for millions in federal government dollars to correct election-safety problems, has been criticized at times for its approach to election security.

One organization, the Center for American Progress, gave Indiana an "F'' in February of last year for employing systems that leave "the state susceptible to hacking and manipulation by sophisticated nation-states." The report directly cited the state's allowance of machines that "do not provide a paper record."

Notably, Indiana is one of 13 states without a paper ballot backup for all its voting machines, reports The Indianapolis Star. That's the case in Miami County, which only keeps a paper trail for who voted, and when, but not the candidates they voted for.

But Howard County, which still utilizes paper ballots, sits more comfortably than other Indiana counties.

That was made very clear in the case of the Howard County Council's 3rd District seat. Ultimately, one ballot was changed from an uncounted over-vote to a vote in favor of challenger Leslie Fatum during a recount of the paper ballots, a long, tedious process.

That process, however, helped make sure that every single vote counted. That change brought the race into a tie, and Fatum later defeated longtime incumbent Les Ellison in a party caucus vote by precinct committee members. The correct outcome was determined due to having access to paper ballots.

That could not have happened in places like Miami County, where there is a full reliance on touch screens and digital counting. Paper ballots would be preferable.

Ultimately, however, the ideal way to fix voting issues in Indiana is to follow Howard County's lead and create one statewide voting system that includes paper ballots.

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