Last November, election officials in a small Rhode Island town were immediately suspicious when results showed 99 percent of voters had turned down a noncontroversial measure about septic systems. It turned out an oval on the electronic ballot was misaligned ever so slightly and had thrown off the tally. The measure actually had passed by a comfortable margin. The scary part: The outcome might never have raised suspicion had the results not been so lopsided. … States vary widely in what they are doing to tighten security. Colorado and Rhode Island have adopted more rigorous statistical methods for double-checking the votes, while others are making or weighing changes to their voting technology. “Always, there’s been a hypothetical. But clearly, now it is a real threat,” said Noah Praetz, election director for Cook County, Illinois. “The fact that we now have to defend against nation-state actors — Russia, China, Iran. It’s a very different ballgame now.”
… In September, Virginia banned touchscreen voting machines in next week’s closely watched gubernatorial election because of security concerns. Several counties had to scramble to buy replacements.
Georgia, one of five states where voting machines produce no paper trails, is testing out new ones during municipal elections in Conyers, an Atlanta suburb. Voters enter their choices electronically and are then given a paper copy. If the paper looks correct to them, they feed it into a machine that counts their vote.
“This is a wonderful step forward,” said James Cabe, a 37-year-old college instructor from Conyers. “I like looking at a piece of paper and verifying that it’s the vote I cast.”