National: Election systems security under increasing scrutiny | GCN

Between outdated technology, Russian hacking threats, tight budgets, the president’s promises to investigate voter fraud and incomplete information about federal assistance for securing voting systems, local elections officials have their hands full. In Bexar County, Texas, which is saddled with the oldest elections technology in the state, officials scour eBay for Zip disks, the storage media the county’s system uses to help merge results.”I’d be dead in the water without our technical support people looking online to buy the pieces and parts to keep us going,” Jacque Callanen, the county’s elections administrator told the Associated Press. Similarly outdated systems are common across the country, but municipalities probably will not be able to foot the bill for new systems without help from their state legislatures, which are also strapped for cash.

… Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan non-profit group that follows elections issues, pointed to the disparate, disjointed and often outdated nature of voting technology throughout the country. Cases in point: Some voting jurisdictions are using Windows XP systems that are more than a dozen years old; only half of states use actual ballots to double-check votes; and one-quarter of jurisdictions do not have “verifiable” results, she said, adding: “After 2016, we know breaches here are not theoretical anymore.”

For many voting jurisdictions, however, there is a lack of resources to support greater information security support. “There’s often no IT person or expertise to run the systems they have… and they’re using unencrypted email for returning ballots,” Smith said. “We want to reduce the use of practices that cannot be secured… There are resources and opportunities, but they are not mandated. We cannot say we have secure elections.”

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