As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say the lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check the results for signs of manipulation. “In the current system, after the election, if people worry it has been hacked, the best officials can do is say ‘Trust us,’” said Alex Halderman, a voting machine expert who is director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society. Georgia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and four other states — Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — exclusively use touch-screen machines that provide no paper records that allow voters to confirm their choices.
Such machines are also used in more than 300 counties in eight other states: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, according to Verified Voting, a nonprofit group focused on ensuring the accuracy of elections.
In all, about 20 percent of registered voters nationwide use machines that produce no paper record.
Many election officials in states and counties that rely on those machines say they support upgrading them but also contend they are accurate. In many jurisdictions, the multimillion-dollar cost is a hurdle.