With the midterm elections of 2018 fewer than 12 months away, Congress is showing heightened concern over the potential for disastrous cyber attacks on the nation’s electronic voting systems. “Like anything else in the digital age, electronic voting is vulnerable to hacking,” said Will Hurd, R-Texas, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Information Technology. “Our voting machines are no exception.” Hurd, in opening remarks at a Nov. 29 joint hearing with the House Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs on the cybersecurity of voting machines, said subcommittee members wanted to explore what impact the Department of Homeland Security designation last January of U.S. election systems as “critical infrastructure” has had on states. “It is essential that states take appropriate steps to secure their voting infrastructure,” he said.
Matt Blaze, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania, citing “the risks and vulnerabilities inherent” in DRE systems, recommended in his testimony that DRE machines be “immediately phased out” from U.S. elections. Among better options, he said, are systems such as precinct-counted optical scan ballots, which leave a direct artifact of the voter’s choice.
“Computers and software play central roles in almost every aspect of our election process: managing voter registration records, defining ballots, provisioning voting machines, tallying and reporting results, and controlling electronic voting machines used at polling places,” he added. “The integrity and security of our elections are thus inexorably tied to the integrity and security of the computers and software that we rely on for these many functions.”