Although the state’s voting machines aren’t linked to the internet, experts warn that gives officials a false sense of security. What’s needed are machines that deliver a paper audit trail of every vote. The hacking of election results, rumored to have occurred in 2016 and feared to be possible now and in the future, can happen here, say experts. They worry that New Jersey’s current voting process is vulnerable, and the state’s ballot system has been graded among the least secure in the country. Still, the state’s chief election and security officials are confident in the integrity of New Jersey’s voting procedures. Since voting machines are not connected to the Internet, they believe there is no cause for concern. They have no plans to replace equipment that were put into service 15 years ago or longer. Despite this, some legislators and advocacy groups are not convinced. They point out the voting machines in use are relatively antiquated and do not meet recommendations of national experts.
… New Jersey’s voting machines were upgraded shortly after the 2000 presidential election using federal grant money available at the time. Even then, the new electronic voting machines were the subject of a lawsuit by a group of citizens who complained about potential security risks and the lack of a paper trail. As part of the suit, a team of scientists from Princeton and Lehigh universities was able to study the most commonly used machine, the Sequoia AVC Advantage. In 2008, they presented their results, concluding the machines wereand urging the state to use a different method with an “auditable paper trail.” In the end, the state added some security devices and the court allowed the continued use of the machines.
Still, a Princeton professor made news in 2016 when he demonstrated how towithin seven minutes by replacing one of its computer chips with a chip that included programming to manipulate election results. That would be difficult to do, but not impossible, he said at the time, given voting machines are typically delivered to polling places days before an election and are left unguarded during that time.