This fall’s statewide elections in Virginia and New Jersey are the first big test of security measures taken in response to last year’s attempts by Russia to meddle with the nation’s voting system. Virginia was among 21 states whose systems were targeted by Russian hackers last year for possible cyberattacks. While officials say the hackers scanned the state’s public website and online voter registration system for vulnerabilities and there’s no sign they gained access, state authorities have been shoring up the security of their election systems. One of the most drastic steps was a decision by the Virginia Board of Elections earlier this month to order 22 counties and towns to adopt all new paper-backed voting machines before November. The board decided that the paperless electronic equipment they had been using was vulnerable to attack and should be replaced.
… Election security watchdogs say they’re encouraged, especially by Virginia’s decision to get rid of its paperless machines. Still, Susan Greenhalgh, of a group called Verified Voting, says using paper ballots is only the first step, and that they need to be counted to detect tampering.
“We need to use them to audit the election results. It’s like we can have a seatbelt in our car but unless we actually strap in, that seat belt doesn’t give us any safety,” she says.
Virginia plans to start conducting such post-election audits, but not until after next year’s election.