National: Cyber Vulnerabilities Threaten 2016 Election | Risk & Insurance
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of registered voters believe the 2016 presidential campaign will be compromised by a cyber breach in some way, according to a poll conducted by data security firm PKWARE and Wakefield Research. Their concerns are not unwarranted; at a time when breaches and data theft make headlines on a regular basis, much of the voting process remains unprotected. “There is a lot of vulnerability in paperless voting systems, whether they are direct reporting electronic machines, or email return ballots,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit organization that advocates for accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections. Most polling places use paper ballots that are tabulated by a scanner. Even if the scanner goes haywire, there is a paper record of voters’ intent and officials can take a manual count. In fully paperless systems, no such backup exists. “In a situation like that, there’s no way to demonstrate that the software is working properly. If something seems amiss or there is an unexpected outcome, you really wouldn’t have a way to go back and correct it because you don’t have an independent record of voter intent,” Smith said. Electronic systems, then, offer a prime target for hackers looking to influence elections.