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.
Verified Voting in the News
Pennsylvania: Replacing York County’s outdated voting machines: Looming deadline, big bill | York Dispatch
As the November election approaches, York County’s voting machines reportedly are outdated, vulnerable to hacking and lacking a commonly used safety feature that might reveal meddling or mistakes. In fact, most Pennsylvania counties are in the same boat, according to Department of State, which is giving them until 2020 to upgrade their machines. The switch won’t be cheap, and no one is sure who’s going end up footing the bill, estimated to be about $125 million statewide. York County’s machines are 12 years old and replaced lever-operated voting booths that had been in use for more than half a century. … The risks associated with York County’s machines range in severity — from simple programming errors like the county saw last year, to hacking that can change vote counts, according to Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting and former deputy secretary for Elections and Voting under the Wolf administration.
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.
National: Ahead of November election, old voting machines stir concerns among U.S. officials | Reuters
U.S. election officials responsible for managing more than a dozen close races this November share a fear: Outdated voting machines in their districts could undermine confidence in election results that will determine which party controls the U.S. Congress. In 14 of the 40 most competitive races, Americans will cast ballots on voting machines that do not provide a paper trail to audit voters’ intentions if a close election is questioned, according to a Reuters analysis of data from six states and the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-political group concerned about verifiable elections. These include races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Kansas and Kentucky. Nationwide, of 435 congressional seats up for grabs, 144 are in districts where some or all voters will not have access to machines using paper records, the analysis shows. While something could go wrong in any of those districts, it is in the close elections where a miscount or a perception of a miscount matters most.
National: State Websites Are Hackable — And That Could Compromise Election Security | FiveThirtyEight
Not every election hack is a blockbuster — but even small-scale attacks on states’ cyber infrastructure have the potential for catastrophic effects. After receiving a tip from a small cyber firm called Appsecuri, FiveThirtyEight has confirmed that two states, Alabama and Nevada, had vulnerabilities that left them open to potential compromises of their state web presences. Earlier this month, Appsecuri approached FiveThirtyEight and said it found potential flaws on several states’ websites that would allow for information to be tampered with. It provided a number of vulnerabilities to FiveThirtyEight; FiveThirtyEight is only reporting those it could verify with the states affected.
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.”
In an era rife with concerns about cybersecurity, election officials are increasingly turning to a decidedly low-tech solution: paper. While security advocates have long considered use of paper a best practice for election integrity, the pace of its adoption has accelerated in the wake of Russian meddling in the U.S. election in 2016. City and county governments around the country and a handful oif states, so far, have moved to replace electronic voting methods with paper ballots or to adopt electronic voting machines that generate paper receipts. Virginia last year, just two months before its state election, phased out all its old electronic touch-screen machines after a demonstration at a hacking conference spotlighted vulnerabvilities in its electronic voting machines. Voters across the state cast paper ballots on election day. In Kentucky and Pennsylvania, meanwhile, state officials have ordered that all new voting equipment have a paper trail.
Mississippi can expect to receive nearly $4.5 million from the federal government in the next few months to improve election security, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann applied for a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which has about $90 million available to divide among states for election security measures. Spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith said Tuesday that Mississippi should receive its money before the general election this November.
As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say the lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check the 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. Georgia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and four other states — Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — exclusively use touch-screen machines that provide no paper records that allow voters to confirm their choices.
When a WWE wrestler, especially one known for his demonic antics and a move called the “tombstone piledriver,” runs for mayor of your county, you know your election is going to get more attention than usual. But in Knox County, Tenn., it wasn’t the fact that Glenn Jacobs, also known to wrestling fans as Kane, was running for mayor that gained national attention on the county primary day, May 1. It was that the county’s election website, at the time the site was supposed to begin posting election results, came under attack. Malicious cyber actors shut down the county website and broke into the web server, according to county officials and a report done by the cyber security firm Sword and Shield. …”Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it’s directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,” said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa.