Federal efforts to fund new voting machines in states including South Carolina are gathering steam, but some advocates say state officials should be doing more. Several U.S. senators voiced support for the Secure Elections Act, which would allocate more money to states looking to increase the security of their elections systems, which help South Carolina. The Secure Elections Act has five co-sponsors, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca. A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, said Wednesday he supports the push as well, calling it a “positive step forward.” “As we continue to learn lessons from the 2016 election, Senator Scott believes it is critical we move forward with efforts to secure voting systems across the country and fight intrusion attempts by bad actors from around the globe,” Ken Farnaso, Scott’s press secretary, said in an email.
Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Rules Committee, the second of its kind, comes a day after a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in South Carolina alleging the state’s 14-year-old voting machines are vulnerable to hacking, undermining South Carolinians’ right to vote.
South Carolina is one of five states that uses voting machines that don’t produce a paper trail. That makes the machines uniquely vulnerable to hacks, since there is no record that can be used to audit electronic results, some experts say.
“Paper ends up being a wonderfully robust kind of backup and safeguard against cyber attacks,” said Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. “It may seem retrograde, but it’s not.”
Larry Schwartztol, counsel at Protect Democracy, said the S.C. Election Commission should be doing more than awaiting money from the state Legislature or from the federal government to buy new voting machines.