The nation’s top intelligence officers warned Congress this week that Russia is continuing its efforts to target the 2018 elections. This should come as no surprise: A few months ago, the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that hackers had targeted their election systems in 2016. Yet Congress still has not passed legislation to meaningfully address election cybersecurity. Time is running out. Lawmakers need to act immediately if we are to protect the 2018 and 2020 elections. … We believe there is a framework to secure our elections that can win bipartisan support, minimize costs to taxpayers and respect the constitutional balance between state and federal authorities in managing elections. In September, Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced legislation that would help solve the problem with an elegantly simple fix: paper ballots.
Meadows’s Paper Act would authorize cost-sharing with states for the replacement of insecure electronic systems with those that produce a voter-verified physical record. The bill also lays the groundwork for states to regularly implement risk-limiting audits — procedures that check a small random sample of paper records to quickly and affordably provide high assurance that an election outcome was correct.
President Trump has already endorsed this framework, declaring: “There’s something really nice about the old paper ballot system. . . . You don’t worry about hacking.” And in the Senate, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers recently introduced the Secure Elections Act, which presents a sweeping set of security fixes including federal grants to install systems that use voter-verified paper ballots. The best estimates show that we can replace all paperless voting machines in the United States for about the cost of a single F-22 fighter jet — and in fact, the Senate bill would not add to the deficit because it offsets any new spending.