A majority of U.S. states are planning to conduct their November elections using electronic machines with technology invented when cybersecurity threats did not loom as quite as large as they do now. It seems like an election crisis waiting to happen. But, despite recent hacks of Democratic Party data– and suspicions of Russian government involvement—a widespread attack on electronic voting machines is unlikely, according to people familiar with existing systems. Still, states and Congress should move to upgrade and protect a legion of outdated machines from isolated attacks, they say. … There’s no evidence that a voting machine has been hacked during an election, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology, who specializes in voting technology. Although that doesn’t mean a hack couldn’t happen, the wide variety of machines and methods used to vote from precinct to precinct would require an army of people within U.S. borders trying to tamper with machines on a local level, Hall said. “A widespread effect is highly unlikely because the resources required would be very large,” Hall said. “There are attacks you can accomplish from afar for an internet voting system that aren’t possible with the system we have now.” Hall said that doesn’t mean that small-scale electronic voting hacks aren’t a concern. Outdated voting machines are “horrifically insecure,” he said.
Online voting has the potential to boost election participation around the world, but is not yet ready to be widely rolled out due to security risks, a study released Wednesday said. The research, produced by the Atlantic Council think tank and the online protection firm McAfee, concluded that “security will need to be vastly improved” before it becomes feasible to adopt Internet voting on a large scale. According to the study, online voting faces more complex obstacles than electronic commerce, where a customer can be reimbursed in the case of fraud or theft. “Online voting poses a much tougher problem” than e-commerce, the report said. “Lost votes are unacceptable… and unlike paper ballots, electronic votes cannot be ‘rolled back’ or easily recounted.”
Reports of serious errors occurring Election Day in electronic-voting machines in Fulton County demonstrate the urgency of passing legislation to verify the accuracy of our voting systems. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp called Fulton County’s election administration a “debacle,” noting that this is yet another example of “the constant and systemic nature of election failures in Fulton County.” During this summer’s primary elections, several Fulton County precincts also reported a substantial disparity between registered voters and ballots. Voting-machine errors resulted in voter turnouts that exceeded 100 percent in some precincts. This figure is astronomical when compared to the statewide turnout that averaged between 10 and 20 percent. But one precinct had an impossible turnout of 23,300 percent. These kinds of problems with voting machines are precisely why I introduced H.R. 6246, the Verifying Official Totals for Elections (VOTE) Act. Not only does it improve our confidence in election data through transparency and accountability, more importantly, it assures accuracy.
A day after some electronic voting machines malfunctioned in Hinds County, the mystery remains. “Everyone I’ve talked to is baffled,” Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis said Wednesday.
At Wynndale Presbyterian Church, the electronic ballot failed to include races for governor or lieutenant governor. The precinct switched to paper ballots that included all the races.
This is the first time McInnis said he has seen the problem with these machines. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the machines a 7.5 to 8,” said McInnis, who also is executive vice chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Hinds County’s voting machines, which are about 10 years, are no longer manufactured. The company that made them, Advanced Voting Solutions, is out of business. Hinds County is the only county in Mississippi to use the system.
If the provincial government approves, Vancouver residents will be able to vote for their municipal representatives online this fall. Vancouver is set to join a small but growing number of Canadian municipalities that allow internet voting, subject to the province’s approval. That approval, according to City Councillor Andrea Reimer, is very likely, as the province is…