Something is rotten in the state of our electronic voting practices. They are recklessly wandering towards online voting despite their high vulnerable to hacking and manipulation by cyberspace clowns, partisans, enemies, or all three. Congress should invoke its power under Article I, section 4 of the Constitution to require in federal elections use of paper ballots or electronic voting machines that produce voter-verified paper ballots. Congress should encourage States to do likewise for state elections through a federal grant-in-aid program. Firewalls should also be required between internet and voter registration, vote-tabulating machines, ballot delivery, and election management systems. Before certification of final election results, a random sample of electronic voting system totals should be compared with hand counts of the votes on the corresponding paper ballots to detect hacking or error. Elections are too important to be left to amateurs or to luck, which Congress seems not to understand.
Last month, former FBI director James B. Comey advised the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding Russia’s attempted electronic tampering with the 2016 elections, “They’re coming after America. They will be back.”
We are at the edge of an electoral precipice as the example of Illinois confirms. In early July 2016, a contractor with the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network according to Ken Menzel, its general counsel. The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database. It contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial social security numbers on 15 million registrants, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were compromised. The hackers attempted but failed to alter or delete database information.