Having verifiable paper trails for votes has proven to be a useful tactic, officials from three states told senators Wednesday, but they said states still have a long way to go in securing elections. Secretaries of State Steve Simon of Minnesota, Jay Ashcroft of Missouri and Jim Condos of Vermont testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about their security precautions going into this November’s midterm elections, and to lobby for more federal support for upgrading voting equipment and cybersecurity practices. States across the country have been scrambling to batten down how they conduct elections in the wake of intelligence officials’ reports that hackers linked to the Russian government attempted to penetrate the voting systems in 21 states during the 2016 presidential election. But states that are moving toward more paper trails of ballots and stronger security around voter files are going in the right direction, the secretaries of state said. “It’s very hard to hack paper,” Simon said.
As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, roughly 1 in 5 Americans will cast ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check results for signs of manipulation. “In the current system, after the election, if people worry it has been hacked, the best officials can do is say, ‘Trust us,’” said Alex Halderman, a voting machine expert who is director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society.
As key midterm elections approach, contests that could set off an enormous shift in Washington, D.C., U.S. authorities are taking measures to make sure they are secure and free of foreign influence. For years, a number of polling places have gone more high tech with electronic voting machines. Fears about vulnerabilities in the systems in an increasingly interconnected world, however, is now turning eyes to a strikingly original idea — paper ballots. The United States largely moved away from paper ballots after the 2004 Help America Vote Act replaced lever and punch-card voting machines with Direct Recording Electronic, or DRE, systems. The reform was a direct result of the notoriously contested 2000 presidential election, which triggered weeks of recounts and multiple complaints about the paper ballots in Florida.
All US states should return to a paper ballot system because they were at too much risk from cyberterrorism, former President Bill Clinton has said. While it isn’t yet clear how much of the 2016 presidential election was compromised by cyberattacks, all US citizens should return to pen and paper to vote for now, the 42nd president told the BBC on Monday. “Until we get this straightened out, every state should go to some sort of paper ballot system,” Clinton said. He specifically cited Virginia’s decision last year to return to a paper ballot system, in which manual votes are counted and processed by electronic scanners.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners. Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. “So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”
All but two of the 75 counties in Arkansas use voting machines that create paper copies of each ballot cast. Clerks in Union and Ouachita counties said they’ve never had a problem with their voting equipment. Election security experts have raised concerns about voting devices that don’t produce receipts for individual voters because the lack of those receipts makes it hard to ensure no votes were manipulated. Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford acknowledged those concerns are the biggest drawback to his county’s current voting machines, which the county plans to replace before the general election in November.
As midterm primary elections inch closer and closer, cybersecurity of election systems is top of mind across the nation. Seventeen states requested on-site risk assessments from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure elections are secure against cyber-tampering. Idaho was not one of those states but election officials say the Gem State is involved in informal conversations with both DHS and the FBI regarding election cybersecurity. That includes constant vulnerability scans. … Just last week, election officials implemented several DHS processes and recommendations to keep state elections secure. But among Idaho’s high-tech security measures, the state’s best defense against a potential threat is much simpler.
Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres has set an aggressive timeline for the improving the security of the state’s voting machines and processes. By the end of December 2019, all Pennsylvania counties must have voter-verifiable, paper-record voting systems in place. Pennsylvania’s ability to invest in elections infrastructure comes from its $13.5 million share of $380 million in funds included in the omnibus spending law passed in March to help states secure elections infrastructure. The funding is an extension of the 2002 Help America Vote Act. To take advantage of the funds, each state is also required to contribute a 5 percent match to the HAVA funds, which brings the total amount to be distributed to Pennsylvania counties to $14.2 million.
Pakistan: In a first, watermarked ballot papers to be used in 2018 general elections | The Express Tribune
The ballot papers in the upcoming general elections will bear a watermark on them which is unprecedented in Pakistan’s electoral history, Express News reported. According to reports, preparations for the general elections are in full swing with ballot papers to be used for voting to have an exclusive watermark for which paper is being purchased from France. The special paper will be provided in June 2018 after which the printing process shall begin.
The mechanic finishes repairing your car. “I fixed that power steering lines,” he says. “But I noticed the clutch is about to fail. Maybe next week or next month, but you’re living on borrowed time.” So what do you do? You have him install a new clutch, of course. It’s too dangerous not to. Alarmingly, Texas policy makers have not applied this logic to our state’s voting systems. Cyber experts have warned that many electronic voting machines used in Texas and 13 other states are vulnerable to hacking because they do not produce paper records as a backup. But in recent months, counties have spent millions of dollars on new voting machines that, yet again, do not keep paper records.