Virginia’s election office on Friday urged the state’s election supervisors to prohibit touch-screen voting machines before November’s elections, saying the devices posed unacceptable digital risks. If approved, the move would represent one of the most dramatic actions taken to help secure elections since a 2016 presidential race rife with concerns about digital meddling and vote tampering. Election security experts have long warned that such machines are a top target for hackers. The decision would force Virginia counties to swiftly replace any touch-screen devices with machines that produce a paper trail, ensuring the state could audit its closely watched gubernatorial race this November between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie. The state election board will vote Friday afternoon on the recommendation.
… Swapping out touch-screen machines “would be an extraordinary step forward for the integrity and security of Virginia’s elections, allowing them to be audited and recounted in a meaningful way,” said David Jefferson, an election security expert who chairs the board of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that tracks election equipment nationwide.
“In one stroke,” he said in an email, “replacing the paperless electronic voting machines makes defense possible against the whole range of potential software errors and cyberattacks.”
… Joe Hall — a Verified Voting board member who is also chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights advocate — praised the Virginia Elections Department for its new recommendation and said the state had “come a long way in recent years in terms of embedding security and privacy into the election process.”