Not having a verifiable way to audit election results in some states represents a “national security concern,” the Trump administration’s homeland security chief said on Wednesday, looking ahead to U.S. midterm elections in November. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was prioritizing election cyber security above all other critical infrastructure it protects, such as the financial, energy and communications systems, the agency’s chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, told the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing to examine the Trump administration’s efforts to improve election security came following U.S. intelligence officials’ repeated warnings that Russia will attempt to meddle in the 2018 contests after doing so during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It was held on the same day that lawmakers were expected to unveil a federal spending bill that sources familiar with the negotiations said included nearly $400 million for election security.
Nielsen endorsed paper ballot backups for electronic voting systems as an important safeguard in ensuring that tabulated election results are not tampered with.
New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina have no verifiable paper ballot backup across their states, though some are looking to purchase systems that provide such audits. Eight other states, including Pennsylvania, have some electoral districts without paper backups.