On Chicago’s South Side is a sprawling secure warehouse where election officials are testing every single piece of Chicago’s voting equipment to make sure it’s working right. “We know our reputation, we know what happened 50-60 years ago and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Jim Allen, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. But as voting technology changes new threats emerge. “You’re always concerned that hackers could try to target any part of your system but you try to take enough steps to mitigate the risk,” Allen said. Chicago’s answer to high-tech threats of hackers attempting to manipulate votes is actually a very old technology: paper. Each of the city’s electronic voting machines has a paper record so that voters can check their ballots before they’re cast and so that there’s a hard copy that can be examined in the case of a problem.
“You have to have a paper trail for these elections, I can’t imagine going into an election without that security, that knowledge that there’s a record there,” said Allen.
… “It doesn’t necessarily have to be malfeasance, it can be malfunction,” said Pamela Smith, president of nonprofit, non-partisan group Verified Voting
Verified voting is urging a nationwide paper hard copy backup recording every vote cast. Smith is concerned about some counties in northwest Indiana that don’t have full paper backups and therefore can’t confirm that votes wouldn’t be changed or lost if the system went down. “The key is, the software is probably working correct but if you have the paper you have a way to determine for sure if that’s the case,” Smith said.