Here is a frightening prospect: with four weeks to go before Election Day, some of America’s voting machines are not as secure as they could be. For years, the idea that hackers might mess with a U.S. election seemed more like the plot of a novel than a real possibility. As a result, election administrators have tried to save taxpayer money by using the same machines year after year, even after vulnerabilities with some voting machines were exposed. This year is different. Cyber attackers in Russia have targeted U.S. election systems, taking aim at the Democratic National Committee and voter registration databases of more than 20 states. The risk is small, but real. Let’s start with good news: you can trust the national outcome. Most Americans vote on paper ballots. Those ballots are mainly counted by efficient, accurate optical scan voting machines, and, in most states, they are also audited — hand-counted in public in a small number of randomly selected precincts — to make sure that the optical scan machines are working right. If the election is close enough to merit a recount, or if a random audit shows an anomaly, more precincts can be counted by hand.
… While the likelihood of a successful attack is quite remote, it is real. But there is still time for states to strengthen their procedures. Here is what to do. First, every state should conduct random post-election checks to ensure the accuracy of the count. Many states already do this, and the rest should join in.
Second, election administrators in the states that vote on touchscreen machines without paper trails should recognize the risk and mothball those machines now. States have been slowly but surely getting rid of these machines already, and they simply have to accelerate that process. And these states have long prepared paper ballots to use as back-ups for when machine breaks and for people who vote absentee by mail. In the next four weeks, these states simply need to increase their use of paper ballots as much as possible, to catch up with the rest of America.
Ideally, all Americans should vote on paper. Why should these states take such measures? Because we know that — while the risk is remote — the potential damage of a major touchscreen voting machine failure could be awful.
Full Article: OPINION: We should all be voting on paper.