Voting in New Jersey would go retro, using paper, pens and scanning machines, under legislation designed to increase the security of the ballot in the state. Not everyone who testified at the Assembly’s first hearing Wednesday on a new bill (A3991), called the New Jersey Elections Security Act could agree on what voting machines would be best. But all did agree that the state needs new voting machines with a paper trail to allow audits of election results to ensure their accuracy. “We must have an assurance that our votes are accurate and legitimate,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), both chair of the committee and co-sponsor of the bill. “Where is our democracy without our votes being valid?”
Mazzeo’s bill was prompted in part by reports of Russian hackers attempting to access election systems in 20 states in 2016, and being successful in a handful of cases, though security officials say no votes were changed. Mazzeo was also prompted to create the bill after the state received a D grade from the Center for American Progress, which rated New Jersey among the states with the least secure election systems. The low grade was due, in large part, because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines.
“Voting computers are hackable,” said Andrew Appel, a professor of computer science at Princeton University who has demonstrated how to hack a New Jersey voting machine. “We should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They are fatally flawed technology.”