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U.S. Electronic Voting Systems: Are They Secure?

Last updated on January 16th, 2023 at 07:49 pm

During elections, there are many ways for enemies to get into the electronic voting systems that many states use. 

Even though there is evidence that these systems can be attacked in different ways, there isn’t much proof that they have been hacked in U.S. elections. 

However, just because something hasn’t happened before doesn’t rule out the possibility that it will in the future. 

Experts have increasingly agreed upon a set of security best practices. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the Department of Homeland Security has tried to work with the governments of some states to make their voting systems more secure. However, the authorities in some states have openly opposed these efforts. 

However, not all states have adopted the same security standards.

Putting in place standard security requirements for voting equipment in the US is hard because state voting systems are different and not all in one place. This makes it harder to hack elections on a large scale.

Hacking an election on a large scale is harder because state voting systems are different and not all in one place. However, this makes it hard to set security standards that apply to all states.

Dominion Voting Systems:

Currently, a lot of states use electronic voting machines, which are known to have serious security problems. 

A year ago, University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman found “many significant security issues” in Georgia’s Dominion Voting Systems touch screen voting equipment in a secret study done for a lawsuit about Georgia’s election procedures. 

According to Halderman’s report, the vulnerability could allow someone to “install malicious software, either with temporary physical access or remotely from election management systems.”

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Evidence of Unauthorized Voting:

There is no proof that these security flaws have been used as of yet. 

There is no proof that the electronic voting system in the 2020 elections was tampered with in a way that led to wrong votes. 

According to a study by federal government cybersecurity specialists, the equipment’s Dominion Voting Systems flaws were not used in that election. 

Officials in charge of cybersecurity for the government are now in the awkward position of trying to reassure voters that the election was safe while also admitting that the U.S. voting infrastructure still has a lot of security risks that need to be fixed. 

But the many attempts to hurt the integrity of that election have made it hard for government cybersecurity officials to do their jobs.

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Written Record of Each Vote:

One of the most important things to do to protect electronic voting systems is to use a voting machine that writes down each vote on paper. 

Even though not all states require paper ballots, voter-verifiable paper voting records, or permanent paper voting machine records at the moment, these are generally thought to be the most important security measures to stop vote tampering. 

If there is a suspicion of fraud, paper records can be used to check the vote totals by hand.

Risk-reduction audits:

Risk-limiting audits of paper vote records to back up electronic vote counts are another practice that is suggested to make it less likely that someone would try to change the results of an election on purpose. 

As part of a risk-limiting audit, after an election, a small number of paper ballot records are counted by hand to see if the breakdown of votes matches the final total. 

If a big difference is found, the results of a larger number of paper vote records are added up. 

This procedure keeps going until the breakdown of paper ballots matches the total number of votes cast electronically. 

In this method, any persistent difference between the actual vote counts will be shown by a thorough recount of the paper records.

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Cybersecurity Precautions:

Simple cybersecurity precautions can also be very helpful in promoting election security. 

Other important security measures include protecting voting equipment from physical tampering, keeping software up to date, disconnecting voting machines from the internet, and keeping detailed logs of how they are used. 

These include risk-limiting audits and paper vote records.

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Wrapping Up:

In a statement released in November 2020, the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committee and the Elections Interference Government Coordinating Council said that the election on November 3, 2020, would be “the safest in American history.” 

Even though that may be the case, there is still a need to increase the security of future elections. 

Best practices, like keeping paper records of digitally cast ballots and doing risk-limiting audits on a regular basis, can reduce the very real risks that come from flaws in the voting technology and procedures used in many states. 

In their efforts to keep the voting process honest, government officials shouldn’t lose sight of the need to make it even harder for opponents to hack elections and vote counts.

 

 

 

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