Americans’ ability to fairly choose our own leaders is fundamental to our democracy. Given what we know about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, we must do everything we can at both the federal and state levels to protect the security and integrity of our election systems before voters go to the polls this year. While the Senate Intelligence Committee continues investigating the full extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, American intelligence assessments have already established that Russia hacked presidential campaign accounts, launched cyberattacks against at least 21 state election systems and attacked a U.S. voting systems software company. Although there is no evidence that the Russian activity changed vote tallies on Election Day, these intrusions demonstrate a clear vulnerability that foreign hackers will try to exploit in upcoming elections.
This is a wake-up call that we must heed going into upcoming elections. States need to improve and modernize protections for our voting systems, voter registration data and ballots to prevent theft, manipulation and malicious computer hacking.
Fortunately, New Mexico already has numerous policies in place to protect the integrity of our elections — practices that other states are only just now beginning to adopt. For example, in 2009, New Mexico became the first state in the nation to implement risk-based audits following every primary and general election to verify the accuracy of tabulator results. New Mexico also uses a 100-percent paper ballot system as opposed to the touch-screen machines used in many other states, serving to discourage cyberattacks while leaving behind a paper trail should anything unusual occur.