For the better part of the past year, I served as the cybersecurity expert to Georgia’s “Secure, Accessible, and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission” – a group tasked with recommending new, more secure voting equipment and procedures in our state. The result of much discussion is that I (along with 24 other computer scientists at universities, labs, industry and the nonpartisan organization Verified Voting) advocated for a return to paper ballots. Now, as Congress examines the same, more states could move in this direction. I’d like to explain the irony behind why cybersecurity experts recommend voting on paper and new approaches we all must reconsider going forward.
1. Nation-state threats to cybersecurity are real. The public should be concerned about foreign manipulation of our elections despite hard evidence any has occurred.
I work annually with America’s military and Fortune 100 companies to develop new cybersecurity methods and I’ve published nearly 150 research findings. I’ve watched cyberthreats grow in sophistication since the late ’90s. I know that competition and malicious intent by other nations is intense.
The former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, told an audience of students and business leaders at Georgia Tech last fall that “failures to imagine” how adversaries would attack us have been our biggest and most devastating failures as a nation. As a result, he also said the CIA now holds the most top-secret information on paper only.
His comment is one of many reasons that I strongly recommended Georgia return to hand-marked paper ballots. The right technology for these times may not be the most cutting-edge. Paper provides the trail of evidence for post-election audits to determine if software caused an error in election outcomes and does so without re-running an entire election. Paper is human readable and manually countable when needed. No system is 100 percent cybersecure, and nearly zero risk should be tolerated when safeguarding something as pivotal as elections.
Full Article: Opinion: Making Ga., U.S. election systems more secure.