Fears that the Russians could hack the voting system on Nov. 8 and wreak havoc in the presidential election are running high amid suspicions that Russians hacked into computers at the Democratic National Committee and after foreign intruders managed to get into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. While computer scientists and election experts will never say never, hacking the actual voting systems is highly implausible. But if the worst happened — hackers seeking to manipulate the outcome — you’d want a foolproof backup system. Yet voting systems in nearly a third of the states lack a key safeguard: a paper record of individual votes. Five states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — use paperless electronic voting machines as their primary equipment statewide. Nine others, including swing states Pennsylvania and Virginia, use them in some counties, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice.
After the 2000 Bush v. Gore election fiasco, where hanging chads left the vote in doubt and sent the election to the Supreme Court, Congress and election officials couldn’t get away from paper ballots fast enough. A 2002 federal law pushed the country into the modern era of electronic voting, a vast improvement. But the pendulum swung too far, as many states banished paper altogether.
Since then, most states have moved to systems that marry new digital technology with a paper trail, which allows voters to verify that their ballot is accurate before leaving the booth and keeps a paper record that can be checked later. One system uses paper ballots filled out by hand and fed into scanning machines. Another uses a touch screen with a monitor where voters can see their votes and that keeps a paper trail.
Full Article: Tighten ballot security: Our view.