With the 2016 presidential election bringing voting cybersecurity to the fore, many states and localities have been looking at innovative, technology-driven approaches to shore up voting machine security. There are growing concerns about the integrity of ballots nationwide following reports that hackers attempted to infiltrate voting machines in 21 states ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Those concerns are not unfounded, according to a 2017 report published by DEF CON, which unveiled the vulnerabilities of commonly used voting machines in the U.S. To address these weaknesses, several states are taking action to upgrade systems and ensure voting integrity for citizens everywhere. Rhode Island, for example, upgraded its systems to use a cellular connection with a double-encrypted signal that better protects against remote hacking. With worries of election hacking growing, more states are expected to follow suit to make cybersafety a priority at the polls.
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently included $134.3 million to install new voting systems statewide in his 2018-2019 state budget proposal.
A March 2017 report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office found that the state had several voting systems badly in need of upgrades. In one case, the LAO wrote, a county’s voting system had a failed part that no longer was supported by the manufacturer or easy to replace. The county purchased a replacement part through eBay. In another example cited by the LAO, a county relied on the same voting system it used in the 1990s, which counted on computers that operate on an outdated operating system that no longer receives free security upgrades or other support from the manufacturers.
To remedy many of these issues, the LAO report recommended one-time funding to replace the aging voting systems.