It was a discomforting moment last week when a Princeton University computer science professor, in a series of PowerPoint slides, showed lawmakers how he had hacked the type of electronic voting machine most New Jersey counties use to conduct their elections. More jarring still, the professor, Andrew W. Appel, explained that if he manipulated a machine actually in use, election officials would be hard-pressed to detect it because the devices don’t leave a paper trail that can be checked against the electronic tally. “They’re a fatally flawed technology,” said Appel, who was previously involved in a lawsuit that sought to end the use of the machines. “Pretty much everyone knows this now.”
And yet New Jersey is one of only about 10 states that still uses that technology — a dangerous arrangement, experts say, in the wake of Russian operatives trying to breach the election infrastructure of at least 20 states during the 2016 election. No results are known to have been altered.
Kirstjen Nielson, head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recently said the inability to verify election results in states like New Jersey is a “national security concern.”