Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation () calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.
The state plans to spend a portion of the $9.76 million it is getting in a federal “access and security” grant and close to $500,000 in state matching funds on a pilot program to let counties lease or buy a small number of voting machines with a “voter verified paper audit trail.” The pilot will take place in “small jurisdictions with a small number of voting systems.”
In complaining that the $380 million Help America Vote Act is not providing nearly enough funds needed to truly ensure election security, the Brennan Center for Justice noted that New Jersey is not getting enough money from the federal government to replace all its electronic voting machines — the cost to do so is estimated at between $40.4 million and $63.5 million.