Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems. California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts. A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.
Elections cyber security experts say that creates an opening malicious actors could exploit. Computer scientist David Jefferson chairs the elections transparency group Verified Voting.
“The one percent manual tally is intended to be an end-to-end check on the correctness of the tally, and you can’t do that if you exclude a large fraction of all the ballots cast,” says Jefferson.