The Missouri Senate is considering whether to permanently unplug the state’s touchscreen machines amid concerns that electronic voting machines might be susceptible to hackers. The proposal, which already passed the House in a 108-31 vote, would require voters to use paper ballots exclusively. Machines could still be used to count votes and to assist disabled voters in marking their ballots. But systems that only recorded votes electronically would be phased out. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Curtman of Washington, said the proposal would help ensure the “highest confidence in the integrity of our election system.” If enacted, the proposal would not be a sea change for the state. Every county in Missouri already uses at least some paper ballots. About two dozen counties also use electronic voting machines that do not require a paper ballot, but those machines still create a paper trail for auditing vote totals.
Maura Browning, the spokeswoman for Missouri’s Secretary of State, said none of those machines are connected to the internet, and it is standard practice for those machines to require two keys to access.
Concerns over U.S. election integrity intensified in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. The Department of Homeland has said that Russian government hackers attempted to access election information in a number of states, but there was “no evidence” that votes were changed.