Since hackers have targeted the election systems of more than 20 states, cyber-security experts say Michigan should change its policy and routinely audit a sample of its paper ballots to protect against election fraud. Voter registration lists were hacked recently in Arizona and Illinois. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not acknowledge whether those particular systems were breached, but Secretary Jeh Johnson said hackers “in a few cases … gained access to state voting-related systems.” The department would not disclose whether Michigan was one of “a large number of state systems” scanned by hackers in preparation for possible attacks, but the Michigan Secretary of State’s office said the state’s voter registration lists have not been targeted or affected. … Audits in Michigan are only triggered in certain circumstances, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Automatic recounts for presidential ballot results happen when the leading candidates are 2,000 or fewer votes apart, while a losing candidate can request a recount for a district or certain precincts, according to the Secretary of State’s office. “It should be done routinely in order to provide a strong degree of confidence,” said University of Michigan cyber-security expert Alex Halderman. “That’s an opportunity for Michigan to improve its election procedures. You should audit every election.”
Other cyber-security experts agree, including Michigan State University’s Rich Enbody, Stanford University’s Herbert Lin and experts at the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. Verified Voting, a Carlsbad, California-based advocacy group, also urges stronger elections security requirements.
… Michigan’s failure to routinely review a statistically valid cross-section of the state’s votes worries cyber-security experts such as MSU’s Enbody, UM’s Halderman and Barbara Simons, chairwoman of Verified Voting’s board of directors and a member of the U.S. Elections Commission’s board of advisers since 2008. “Even with optical scans, there’s a computer in that machine,” Simons said. “Having paper ballots are really important, but it doesn’t help if you never look at them again. It should be always done.”
… Halderman said “Michigan has among the best class of system” and is thankfully not using “out-of-date touch screen computer voting machines.” The state also will not seek to buy touch screen voting machines when it replaces ailing tabulators for the 2018 election, according to the Secretary of State’s office. But even automatic audits of paper ballots don’t mean the results are safe from hackers, said Lin, a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “If I’m a hacker, I’m going to exploit the details. Maybe there’s a key, a lock on it that is easily picked and maybe I can get into it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s difficult. I would worry less about that than I would about the states” with computerized, digital records. “I suspect you’re safer than Pennsylvania.”
Full Article: Experts: State should audit election results.