With the U.S. presidential election just weeks away, questions about election security continue to dog the nation’s voting system. It’s too late for election officials to make major improvements, “and there are no resources,” said Joe Kiniry, a long-time election security researcher. However, officials can take several steps for upcoming elections, security experts say. “Nobody should ever imagine changing the voting technology used this close to a general election,” said Douglas Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa. “The best time to buy new equipment would be in January after a general election, so you’ve got almost two years to learn how to use it.” … Some states conduct extensive pre-election tests of their voting equipment, but other tests are less comprehensive, said Pamela Smith, president of elections security advocacy group Verified Voting. Most jurisdictions conduct pre-election voting tests, but many “randomly select some machines” after ballot information, such as candidates’ names, is programmed in, Smith said. Testing all voting machines before an election would be more secure, she said.
Iowa’s Jones discounted current pre-election testing in many jurisdictions. The testing usually doesn’t involve security checks, but only a brief test of “only a few ballots per machine … long before election day,” he said. So, if hackers find a way to load malware onto voting machines, “the malware can easily distinguish between testing and a real election,” he added.
Many states have post-election auditing processes in place that “don’t make sense statistically,” said Kiniry, now CEO and chief scientist at Free and Fair, an election technology developer. “They don’t really give you any veracity about the election outcome.” The auditing plans were passed by legislators who “don’t actually talk to statisticians,” he added. “You hear about audits happening, but they don’t reveal anything about the election.”
… Many voting jurisdictions have improved the physical security of their voting machines in recent years, after reports of machines being left overnight in school or being stored in voting officials’ cars or homes, said Verified Voting’s Smith. “There was a lot of fuss about that in the media years ago,” she said. “There is an effort to minimize the time where that equipment would be unsecured. You don’t want to be the one jurisdiction that says, ‘Hey, look, I saw these voting machines sitting out in the open.'”
Full Article: 5 ways to improve voting security in the US | PCWorld.