Is it time to panic about Election Day? Not about the choices for president, but about whether the votes that millions of Americans will cast Nov. 8 will be secure. “My level of concern is pretty high,” said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan group created to develop guidelines after the disputed 2000 presidential election. Experts are warning that in a year of unending political drama, still more might be in store, from Russian hackers to obsolete voting machines prone to breakdowns, all with the potential for causing considerable political chaos. … Nervousness over the apparatus by which the next president will be chosen seemed inevitable. Computer-security experts have long expressed concerns about the vulnerabilities of state voter-registration rolls and the frailties of older voting machines.
“Flipped votes, freezes, shutdowns, long lines and in the worst-case scenarios, lost votes and erroneous tallies,” is how a report last year, “America’s Voting Machines At Risk,” described the recurring problems of older machines. It was written by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan public policy and legal-research center at the New York University School of Law.
The Arizona voter-system hack apparently compromised neither the voter-registration database nor any machines, but it did steal the password and user name of an election official. Still, it sounded alarms.
“It says this is not theoretical,” said Pamela Smith, the president of the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group for election accuracy and accountability.