Congress Should Act to Improve and Secure Our Voting Machines Earlier than Midterms
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election simply 9 months away, the window is closing for Congress to repair the vulnerabilities in America’s vastly outdated and underfunded election methods. While a lot has been performed to safe our election infrastructure previously few years, this can be a crucial lacking piece.
The 2016 election cycle made clear that the United States is vulnerable to the identical varieties of cyberattacks waged on democracies in other countries lately, whether or not by Russia or different actors. And our getting old voting machines imply that we’re not as ready as we should be to defend ourselves when – not if – we’re attacked once more. Foreign interference endangers our democracy not solely by means of manipulating at-risk infrastructure, however by shaking voters’ confidence in your entire democratic course of.
Revelations over the previous 12 months have already left Americans 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 National Committee’s e-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 shield ourselves from unhealthy actors like Russia and others, we’d like a nationwide improve to our voting machines, and we’d like it desperately.
Cartoons on President Trump and Russia
A current Brennan Center study reveals that residents of 41 states will head to the polls this November counting on voting machines which can be greater than a decade previous. Some of them are operating on Windows 2000 software program. Voting machines usually are not designed to final that lengthy. What’s worse? Officials in 33 states want to interchange their machines by the top of this decade, however most advised 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 file of the votes, making it laborious to conduct essential post-election audits that confirm vote tallies. Our nation deserves higher.
There is promising information: Some states are already working in the direction of options. Organizations just like the Election Assistance Commission and Harvard’s Belfer Center have supplied cybersecurity trainings to a whole lot of state and native election officers. And the Department of Homeland Security, the EAC and state and native officers have established a coordinating council, which makes it simpler to share details about threats to methods and to pool safety sources. Just final 12 months, 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 – lately allotted cash to replace their outdated infrastructure.
So, what’s Congress ready for? Right now, three bipartisan election safety payments are stalled, awaiting a vote. Each piece of laws would take essential steps to shore up our methods. Congress ought to act on them to shore up our methods 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 would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to distribute $386 million in grants to the states to boost election system safety and improve crucial 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 substitute of older voting tools with methods utilizing a voter-verified paper file that may be audited to verify digital vote tallies.
As hackers turn into extra subtle, congressional inaction gives them extra targets and higher alternative to assault our democracy. Congress ought to work with state and native governments to shore up our election methods. There’s no extra time to waste.
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