National: Cyber chief pushes audits as key to election security | FCW

The nation’s top cybersecurity official told Congress that the ability to audit voting machines after elections is critical for ballot security. “The area that I think we need to invest the most in the nation is ensuring auditability across infrastructure,” Christopher Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said at a Feb. 13 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee. “If you don’t know what’s happening and you can’t check back at what’s happening in the system — you don’t have security.” While 34 states and the District of Columbia have some laws mandating post-election audits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Congress has been unable to agree on how hard or soft to make such language in legislation. Krebs and Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chair Thomas Hicks endorsed the need for greater auditability, though both deferred to states on the question of whether it should be done digitally or by hand.

In particular, states and Republicans have pushed back on bills, including the H.R. 1 legislation currently before the House, that seek to tie eligibility for federal election security grant funding to mandates for paper ballots and risk-limiting or hand-counted post-election audits, which require some form of paper trail.

While most Democrats support mandates around paper ballots and hand-counted or risk-limiting audits, there are indications that if resistance from congressional Republicans and states continue, those demands could soften if it means sending more dollars to states and localities for election infrastructure upgrades.

Most election security experts endorse the two measures because they say that if a machine is hacked and vote totals are altered, the hacker would also be able to change the electronic image of the results that are used as a baseline for auditors to compare vote counts.

Full Article: Cyber chief pushes audits as key to election security — FCW.

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