State election officials, worried about the integrity of their voting systems, are pressing to make them more secure ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
Reacting in large part to Russian efforts to hack the presidential election last year, a growing number of states are upgrading electoral databases and voting machines, and even adding cybersecurity experts to their election teams. The efforts — from both Democrats and Republicans — amount to the largest overhaul of the nation’s voting infrastructure since the contested presidential election in 2000 spelled an end to punch-card ballots and voting machines with mechanical levers.
One aim is to prepare for the 2018 and 2020 elections by upgrading and securing electoral databases and voting machines that were cutting-edge before Facebook and Twitter even existed. Another is to spot and defuse attempts to depress turnout and sway election results by targeting voters with false news reports and social media posts.
West Virginia’s elections team has added a cybersecurity expert from the state National Guard with a top-secret federal security clearance. Colorado and Rhode Island will now verify election results via an advanced statistical procedure called a risk-limiting audit.
Delaware is moving its voter-registration list off the state’s aging mainframe computer and preparing to replace a 21-year-old electronic voting system that does not leave a paper record of votes to be audited.