With the most volatile election in nearly 50 years about to take place in now less than 30 days, federal officials, voting modernization experts and civil rights activist are expressing enormous worry about the integrity of election systems on Nov. 8. Threats to voting systems and processes are not a new occurrence. Just less than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court ended up selecting the first American president of the 21st century after a hanging chad mishap in battleground state Florida put the nation in electoral suspense for months after the election. But there is considerable conversation among government officials on all levels, as well as cybersecurity experts and voting rights advocates that voting systems are facing multiple tracks of threats that could possibly shape outcomes on Election Day. The extent of those threats could also negatively impact Black and Latino voters in a number of key battleground states, including places like Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These are states where voters of color hold the key to determining who ends up in the White House. … U.S. voting infrastructure, according to the Brennan Center’s Christopher Famighetti, is woefully underfunded and dangerously outdated. “In November, 42 states will be using voting machines that are over 10 years old,” Famighetti warned in a conversation with the Tribune. “Thirteen states will be using machines 15 years or older. That’s close to the end of most voting systems life span. We wouldn’t expect our desktop or laptop to last for 10 years.”
And there really hasn’t been a real investment in voting machine technology since the federal government, embarrassed by the paper-ballot Florida fiasco in 2000, half-heartedly dropped $2 billion into electoral modernization. Rather than federal uniformity in voting administration, the nation is faced with a patchwork of countless regulations, ordinances and protocols in hundreds of state and municipal jurisdictions.
White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Assistant Lisa Monaco, however, believes that’s not necessarily a bad thing, pointing out how that prevents a “single point of failure.” While talking before reporters and experts at an annual Washington Post Cybersecurity summit last week, Monaco was upbeat about “our voting infrastructure.”
“[It’s] really quite resilient,” Monaco said. “What do I mean by that? It is owned, operated and managed by states, localities down to the minuscule level. It is diversified. That’s a good thing from a security perspective because there is no single point of failure. The checks and balances in the oversight from the officials and, frankly, from the media creates a great deal of resilience in our election system.”