As key midterm elections approach, U.S. authorities are taking measures to make sure the balloting is secure and free of foreign influence. For years, a number of polling places have gone more high-tech with electronic voting machines. Fears about vulnerabilities in the systems, however, are turning eyes to a strikingly low-tech option — paper ballots. The United States largely moved away from paper ballots after the 2004 Help America Vote Act replaced lever and punch-card voting machines with Direct Recording Electronic, or DRE, systems. The reform was a direct result of the notoriously contested 2000 presidential election, which triggered weeks of recounts and multiple complaints about paper ballots in Florida. … The committee said many of the electronic voting systems are now outdated, and recommended all states go back to paper ballots — or, at least mandate that electronic machines produce a paper hard copy that can be audited.
Nearly two dozen states and the District of Columbia have said they will use only paper ballots in November, according to Verified Voting, and several more are considering the switch.
While DRE voting machines were once viewed as a substantial upgrade over paper that avoids the potential pitfalls of lever and punch-card machines, it’s becoming clear the newer machines may have been short-sighted in their design. Advances in computer technology and greater global Internet accessibility have made those devices susceptible to hacking.
“If an electronic voting system is connected to the Internet or has wireless connectivity capability, then it’s easy to understand how and why the voting equipment is vulnerable to hacking,” Liz Howard, counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, told UPI. “Even machines not connected to the Internet are hackable through compromised memory cards used to set up the voting machine before each specific election or remote access software.”