National: States Upgrade Election Equipment — Wary Of ‘A Race Without A Finish Line’ | Pam Fessler/NPR
With five months before primary season begins, election officials around the country are busy buying new voting equipment. Their main focus is security, after Russians tried to hack into U.S. election systems in 2016. Intelligence officials have warned that similar attacks are likely in 2020, from either Russia or others intent on disrupting U.S. elections. Federal, state and local authorities are trying to improve the security of the nation’s voting systems before that happens. One way they’re doing that is by purchasing more machines that produce paper ballots, which can be used to verify results in the event of a cyberattack on electronic systems. … Marian Schneider, a former Pennsylvania election official, thinks whatever the counties decide, this state is in much better shape than it was in 2016, when more than 80 percent of its machines had no paper records. “You couldn’t check them. Whatever the computer said, the computer said. You were done,” Schneider says. “This is a sea change for Pennsylvania and it’s a good thing.” But Schneider, who runs Verified Voting, a national group that’s long promoted paper ballots, also says paper alone is not enough. “You have to check the paper afterwards. You have to randomly sample those ballots and make sure that the results that the software reported matches what’s on the paper ballots,” she says. She’s talking about something called a risk-limiting audit, which is becoming an increasingly popular way to verify election results. Pennsylvania is among a dozen states now testing the idea.