Eighteen states made a list of the “most vulnerable” election systems in the country in a report published Thursday by the U.S. House Administration Committee. The states included in the report were faulted for lacking several of the things voting-security advocates frequently call for, including paper records of ballots and post-election audits. The report also states that the $380 million in funds currently being distributed to states by the federal Election Assistance Commission isn’t nearly enough, and that it could cost another $1.4 billion over the next decade for every state to properly secure its election systems. All 50 states plus the District of Columbia have now requested their share of the EAC’s grant money, but the report claims that much more will be needed to upgrade election officials’ information technology, implement cybersecurity training and swap out paper-free Direct Recording Electronic ballot machines, known as DREs.
But it’s unclear how much sway the report will have in creating more election-security assistance to the states: the document was produced and signed only by the Administration Committee’s Democratic members. Still, it pulls in many of the most frequently mentioned faults with state election security to press its case, including U.S. intelligence agencies’ finding that hackers linked to the Russian government attempted to penetrate election officials’ systems in at least 21 states during the 2016 cycle.
The five states bunched in the top tier of vulnerable states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — earned that distinction because they’re the only states that conduct all their elections on DREs that do not produce printed receipts.
“We have found that one of the most significant steps a state can take to protect its voting system is to replace paperless voting machines with voting machines that provide a paper trail,” the report reads.