Election security requires that voters trust the results. But many electronic voting systems are clearly insecure, and untrustworthy. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, our country faces a voting security crisis. Here’s why – paperless voting machines are just waiting to be hacked in 2020.
Amid ongoing anxiety about election hacking and foreign interference, Lee County continues to use what many experts deem the most secure voting system: the paper ballot, as reported by Daily Journal staff writer Caleb Bedillion.
Only a dozen or so counties still use paper ballots, while the rest of the state’s 82 counties use fully electronic voting systems. Lee County Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney says hand-marked ballots build voter confidence and ensure the integrity of the election.
While electronic voting is much more convenient in today’s tech-savvy world, the consensus of cyber security experts encourage the use of paper-based voting machines. Electronic machines leave no paper trail and there’s no way to reliably audit the results should an error occur.
The system in Lee County starts on paper, but contains an electronic component. Once the paper ballot is marked, a voter inserts the ballot into a machine that scans the ballot and electronically records the candidate selections made on that ballot, a faster process than paper balloting and counting. This system also ensures paper ballots remain on hand to be rescanned or consulted if any issues arise.
In the months remaining before the next election, it is important that state and local election officials ensure adequate preparations are in place to quickly and effectively recover if prevention efforts are unsuccessful.
While speeding up the process, glitches will occur, as noted in Bedillion’s story, but the paper trail ensures that any questions about the accuracy of the count could be answered by a second look at the paper ballots.
It’s also important to note that Mississippi does not require post-election audits before certification of election results. However, there is nothing stopping counties from conducting such audits. The audits would not prevent successful attacks against electronic voting machines, but would provide states with the opportunity to catch such attacks and then use the paper ballots to correct totals to reflect voters’ choices.
Faster, electronic methods have their advantages and are seen as progress. But having a reliable paper trail isn’t a step backward, and can provide needed voter confidence.