This article was originally posted in the September 16 issue of NCSL’s The Canvas.
After multiple hacks of Democratic Party e-mail systems and fears of Russian cyber attacks on the U.S. election, paper ballots have taken on an unexpected appeal. Online voting software companies are convinced convenience-loving Americans will increasingly push to cast their ballots on smartphones and laptops, and they’re working to make that happen. But voter advocates, election officials and others are still leery of the risks involved in conducting elections over the all-too-vulnerable internet.
State information technology officials have strengthened their defenses against hackers and cybercriminals who attack their computer networks millions of times a day, but admit they’re not fully prepared for increasingly complex threats that could expose the personal information of their residents.
A pair of comprehensive, complimentary election infrastructure reform bills, which will be first introduced Wednesday in the House of Representatives, seeks to take all voting machines offline, offers funding for election cybersecurity research and mandates the use of paper ballots across the U.S. by 2018, FedScoop has learned. These two pieces of legislation — named the “Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016” and the “Election Integrity Act,” respectively — are being sponsored by Rep.
If we were to poll the readers of this article, we would likely find that the vast majority of readers — if not all — regularly shop online, make banking transactions online, fill out registrations and applications online, pay taxes online and maybe even vote for contestants in reality shows online. Yet Americans cannot vote for candidates for public office online. … But experts warn that online voting isn’t as simple as it sounds. Even though it has already been tried in a few places around the world, it probably can’t be secured.
Russian hackers would not be able to change the outcome of the United States presidential election, the nation’s most senior intelligence and law enforcement officials have assured Congress and the White House in recent weeks. But disrupting it, they acknowledge, would be far easier — causing doubts in battleground states, prompting challenges to results and creating enough chaos to make Florida’s hanging chads seem like a quaint problem from the analog age. By some measures, in fact, the disruption has already begun.
U.S. officials are expanding their investigation into the hacking of state election systems as officials believe more states beyond just Arizona and Illinois were affected, a government official has confirmed to CBS News. Law enforcement officials were summoned to Capitol Hill to brief House and Senate leaders on the investigation into the cyberattack on election systems, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reports. Sources tell CBS News that the Department of Homeland Security will soon send out an alert to election officials across the country about the intrusions.
The U.S. election system will likely face a significant trial this year, thanks to a summer of startling revelations including nation-state-linked attacks targeting the Democratic National Committee and state voter databases, along with a statement of no-confidence by the Republican nominee. The result has been a slew of media stories positing how the election could be hacked.
The days of hanging chads might be over, but new Election Day challenges have arisen to fill the void. Electronic voting machines, online voter registration portals and optical scanning devices place significant strain on data center operations. States, counties and cities must now ensure they have the infrastructure necessary to support these increasingly popular technologies — especially with the 2016 presidential election just over the horizon. But even though all states face the same Nov.
At a campaign rally in Altoona, Pa., on Aug. 12 [Trump] alleged that a poor showing could only mean one thing: “The only way we can lose, in my opinion — I really mean this, Pennsylvania — is if cheating goes on. I really believe it.” Trump said, alluding to political subterfuge from the Clinton campaign. Since that rally, Trump has held to these assertions of foul play while his critics have cast them as highly dangerous for the democratic process. However, for those close to the matter — voting officials and voters’ rights groups — the conspiracy theory is a bit bewildering.