Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — America’s election infrastructure as it exists today is dangerously insecure and susceptible to hacking, machine malfunctioning, and Election Day disruption. But there are nine common-sense solutions that, if adopted, would address the vulnerabilities in the nation’s election infrastructure and strengthen the security of America’s elections, says a new issue brief published today by the Center for American Progress.
Along with the solutions, the brief by CAP experts Liz Kennedy and Danielle Root offers an overview of how the attacks and infiltration by Russia during the 2016 election demonstrate that addressing those vulnerabilities—and not distracting the American public with the toxic myth of voter fraud—is a national security issue that deserves bipartisan support.
In June 2017, reports surfaced that Russian hackers targeted 39 state election systems in the lead-up to Election Day, while a National Security Agency report in July 2017 revealed that Russian military intelligence sent spear-phishing emails to 122 email addresses associated with those likely “involved in the management of voter registration systems” in an attempt to probe or infiltrate voting databases. After successfully breaching election records in Illinois, hackers attempted to delete and alter voting information—Bloomberg estimates that as many as 90,000 records were compromised, including names, birthdates, gender, driver’s license numbers, and partial Social Security numbers. But as the brief summarizes, this all started much earlier, and in January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community unanimously confirmed that the Russian government—under orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin—interfered in the 2016 elections and had the intention to assist President Donald Trump in winning the presidential election.
“Especially now, following the disturbing revelations regarding the 2016 election cycle, Americans are more concerned than ever about the security of our elections. Right now, our election infrastructure is woefully ill-prepared to handle sophisticated cyberattacks and is susceptible to system failure,” said Danielle Root, voting rights manager at CAP and co-author of the brief. “Common-sense solutions—such as replacing and updating voting machines and voter registration systems, conducting pre-election testing and robust postelection audits, and establishing cybersecurity standards for election infrastructure—will better protect our elections against hacking and malfunctions.”
In line with recommendations for which the voting access and security community advocates, these are the nine recommendations CAP believes are crucial to secure America’s elections:
- Require voter-verifiable paper ballots or records for every vote cast
- Replace old voting machines
- Conduct robust postelection audits to confirm election outcomes
- Update and secure outdated voter registration systems and e-poll books
- Require minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems and other pieces of voting infrastructure
- Perform mandatory pre-election testing on all voting machines, as well as continuous vulnerability analysis
- Expand threat information sharing, including comprehensive threat assessments accompanied by mandatory reporting requirements
- Elevate coordination between states and federal agencies on election security matters, including real-time notification of security breaches and threats
- Provide federal funding for updating election infrastructure
“To ensure the proper functioning of our democracy, the American people must have full confidence in the security of our electoral process and accuracy of election outcomes,” said Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform at CAP and co-author of the brief. “Unfortunately, Americans have grown more concerned about the security of our elections and our ability to adequately prepare for and respond to threats both foreign or domestic. Restoring public faith in the democratic process and protecting electoral processes from disruption is a bipartisan issue and a matter of national security, requiring immediate action from leaders across the country.”
Click here to read the brief, “9 Solutions to Secure America’s Elections,” by Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy.