Pennsylvania lawmakers and county leaders must move quickly to secure the state’s election infrastructure in advance of the 2020 presidential election, an independent bipartisan commission said Tuesday. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security recommended that the state and federal government provide money to help underwrite the costs for counties facing a major investment to replace electronic voting machines with machines that incorporate voter-verified paper ballots. Although they found no evidence that Pennsylvania elections had been hacked, commission co-chairmen David Hickton, a former U.S. attorney who founded the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and Grove City College President Paul McNulty, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, said the threats to election security are great. “We have little doubt that foreign adversaries will increase their efforts in the lead-up to the presidential election in 2020. The persistence and sophistication of these actors are only increasing.
“We must not pretend that the existing election architecture from an era of flip phones is sufficient to withstand a determined foreign adversary. Improving it will require political will, including funding. And it will require that the commonwealth and counties be prepared to administer an election even in the face of a cyber attack,” Hickton and McNulty wrote in the 72-page report.
Hickton said he’s hopeful that lawmakers will accept the commission’s recommendations and act swiftly.