Upgrade America's Voting Systems

 Credit  komunews

Credit komunews

the situation

The fight for America's national security has moved from the battlefield to the ballot box. Your local polling place is now on the front lines in the struggle for freedom, liberty, democracy, and the American way of life.

Your representatives have the ability to safeguard our nation from threats to our voting systems, but they will not act unless you make them. 

Contact your House and Senate representatives IMMEDIATELY and tell them to pass the bipartisan "Secure Elections Act" to replace outdated voting machines (especially machines that do not produce an auditable paper ballot), increase cyber security standards, and solicit regular security updates from the Department of Homeland Security.

America is in danger. The time for action is now!

 

policy solution

 Credit  Mark Goebel

While the defense of democracy is a never-ending struggle with constantly evolving threats which require constantly evolving defense mechanisms, there are several incredibly simple and critical improvements that can be made right now.

First, America still has five states that rely entirely on voting systems that do not issue any auditable paper ballot, and another half-dozen states that utilize these machines in combination with other more modern machines. Without any paper trail, these machines could each lose hundreds of votes as the result of hacking, tampering, or just simple computer glitches. In competitive districts, such a loss is more than enough to alter the outcome of the election and if this occurs in enough swing districts then it could alter the results of state-wide and national elections as well. This is a completely unnecessary vulnerability. Every vote can be accurately tracked if the machines on which they are cast produce a paper backup. It is that simple. The majority of American voting machines have been upgraded to meet this standard, but far too many still lack this capability. States need federal assistance, in the form of block grants, to upgrade their voting machines and overcome this critical (but easily surmountable) vulnerability.

 Credit  Mark Goebel

Second, communication between state election officials and the Department of Homeland Security is sporadic at best. After Russia attempted to hack into election systems in 21 states (there is no evidence that they succeeded in altering any votes in 2016) it took DHS almost a full year to even inform those states that they were targeted. The interactions between state election officials and DHS must be streamlined and more reliable. This does not mean that states will need to comply with directives from the federal government. Any guidance from the Department of Homeland Security will require strictly voluntary compliance from the states. However, if states are tipped off to severe threats or necessary upgrades, it is doubtful that states will choose to ignore these important actions.

Third, and last, states must be constantly updated on evolving threats as well as evolving cyber-security capabilities needed to combat these threats. An independent commission must routinely test voting machines and voter rolls for vulnerabilities, identify appropriate software updates, and share these findings with the states. The federal government must then supply funds to help states implement these updates if they choose to do so.

The bipartisan Secure Elections Act (introduced by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)) addresses every one of these concerns. It provides block grants for states to upgrade their outdated voting machines, streamlines communications between states and DHS, and creates an independent council to recommend cyber-security updates as well as supply funding to states so that they can implement these recommended upgrades. This bill makes explicitly clear that every state retains authority over their election process. Any assistance from the federal government must be accepted by the states voluntarily. Such considerations have brought this bill bipartisan support in the Senate, acclaim among policymakers and advocacy groups, and praise by state and local government officials. 

It is imperative that we enact the Secure Elections Act as soon as possible. Contact your House and Senate representatives now. Tell them to get this bill to the floor and vote for it immediately. There is absolutely no reason to leave our voting machines in such a vulnerable state. There is absolutely no reason to give our adversaries such an opening to spread distrust and chaos in our elections. Tell Congress to act now!