Congress Must Act to Upgrade and Secure Our Voting Machines Before Midterms | Thomas Jefferson Street

With the 2018 midterm election simply 9 months away, the window is closing for Congress to repair the vulnerabilities in America’s vastly outdated and underfunded election programs. Whereas a lot has been finished to safe our election infrastructure up to now few years, it is a essential lacking piece.

The 2016 election cycle made clear that america is vulnerable to the identical varieties of cyberattacks waged on democracies in other countries not too long ago, whether or not by Russia or different actors. And our getting older voting machines imply that we’re not as ready as we should be to defend ourselves when – not if – we’re attacked once more. Overseas interference endangers our democracy not solely by manipulating at-risk infrastructure, however by shaking voters’ confidence in your entire democratic course of.

Revelations over the previous yr have already left Individuals with tenuous religion within the system. By now we have all heard that Russia attempted to penetrate election software in states throughout the nation. And the intelligence group has said it is assured the nation attacked the Democratic Nationwide Committee’s electronic mail server, amongst different makes an attempt to affect our democracy and sway public opinion on candidates. To make sure the integrity of the upcoming elections and defend ourselves from dangerous actors like Russia and others, we want a nationwide improve to our voting machines, and we want it desperately.

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A current Brennan Middle study exhibits that residents of 41 states will head to the polls this November counting on voting machines which are greater than a decade outdated. A few of them are operating on Home windows 2000 software program. Voting machines aren’t designed to final that lengthy. What’s worse? Officers in 33 states want to exchange their machines by the tip of this decade, however most informed us they lack the funds to take action. And in 13 states, many citizens are casting a poll on machines that don’t create a paper document of the votes, making it exhausting to conduct essential post-election audits that confirm vote tallies. Our nation deserves higher.

There’s promising news: Some states are already working in direction of options. Organizations just like the Election Assistance Commission and Harvard’s Belfer Center have provided cybersecurity trainings to a whole bunch of state and native election officers. And the Division of Homeland Safety, the EAC and state and native officers have established a coordinating council, which makes it simpler to share details about threats to programs and to pool safety assets. Simply final yr, Virginia decertified all remaining paperless touchscreen machines as a result of they weren’t safe sufficient for continued use. And three states – Michigan, Minnesota and Nevada – not too long ago allotted cash to replace their outdated infrastructure.

So, what’s Congress ready for? Proper now, three bipartisan election safety payments are stalled, awaiting a vote. Each bit of laws would take essential steps to shore up our programs. Congress ought to act on them to shore up our programs earlier than it is too late.

One, The Secure Elections Act, is spearheaded by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and James Lankford, R-Okla. It could authorize the Division of Homeland Safety to distribute $386 million in grants to the states to reinforce election system safety and improve essential infrastructure by, amongst different issues, changing antiquated paperless, touchscreen voting machines. The PAPER Act, sponsored by Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., would support states that adjust to EAC safety suggestions, together with these calling for the alternative of older voting gear with programs utilizing a voter-verified paper document that may be audited to test digital vote tallies.

As hackers turn into extra refined, congressional inaction gives them extra targets and better alternative to assault our democracy. Congress ought to work with state and native governments to shore up our election programs. There isn’t any extra time to waste. | Congress Should Act to Improve and Safe Our Voting Machines Earlier than Midterms | Thomas Jefferson Road

Aila Slisco

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