Voting machines: in the age of Trump can they be trusted?

A report by the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice examined the number of aging or outdated voting equipment used throughout the country and found that during the 2018 midterm elections, 34 percent of local election jurisdictions were using voting machines that were at least a decade old as their primary form of voting.   At least eight states – Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky and New Jersey- will be using  paperless voting equipment, or machines without paper records, as the primary polling place equipment in the 2020 elections.

The report found.that in 2020 around 12 percent (down from 20%) of Americans, or about 16 million people, will vote on paperless machines and will have no paper record of how they voted.  These machines are a security risk because they don’t allow election officials or the public to confirm electronic vote totals.  Pennsylvania, Georgia and South Carolina will have replaced paperless voting machines by 2020, while Arkansas, Virginia and Delaware have already completed the process.

The  Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is what is driving the change to adopt election audits and replace outdated voting systems with “a voter-verified paper trail,” in which machines at least print out a paper record of the vote.   12 states are now exploring or using risk-limiting audits, which involve manually checking a sample of the votes cast to ensure they have not been tampered with. 

Nonetheless, “States and counties need more resources for items like cybersecurity support for local election jurisdictions and upgrades to voter registration databases and other critical election systems,” the Brennan Center report said.  (An edited version of an article in The Hill 13 Aug 2019)

Maybe I am seeing conspiracies where there are none, but the reaction of Republicans to accusations of Russian influence in the last election gave the impression that Republicans didn’t care (or even welcomed) Russian subversion of the system, since it benefitted them.  Which could be interpreted as treachery.  The same can be said for the alleged funding in Britain of Brexit with Russian money.  Putin must be loving all this!

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