As if the American election process isn’t Byzantine enough with local, state, and federal rules and regulations, we have multiple ways of collecting, tallying, and reporting votes in 9,000 jurisdictions throughout the United States including optical scan, direct recording electronic systems (DRE), ballot marking devices, and punch card voting systems, early voting, absentee voting, and provisional ballots.
According to the NYT, the Obama administration is weighing new steps to bolster the security of the voting process against cyberthreat, “including whether to designate the electronic ballot-casting system for November’s elections as “critical infrastructure”, said Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
Concerns about electronic voting aren’t new, of course, but overt cyberattacks are increasing. While the origins of the various attacks, including the DNC and OPM aren’t officially confirmed, there’s no denying the uptick in hacking decidedly unsecure and outdated computers and software.
Remember the 2000 presidential election and our obsession with hanging chads? A national commission was created in 2002 and Congress allocated more than $3 billion USD in grants to help officials upgrade voting processes and equipment. “But there is more to do,” said Johnson and “we should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process is critical infrastructure, like the financial sector, like the power grid.”
Is declaring the U.S. electronic ballot-casting systems as “critical infrastructure” an overreaction by the Feds? Great piece by Politico explaining that to date, there is not a singular national body that regulates the security on Election Day as it’s a process decided state-by-state. Technical standards for voting are created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Election Assistance Commission but the guidelines are not mandatory. That’s right – the security of your vote is based on voluntary standards.
A review of polling machines shows aging voting technologies impacting the majority of America including but not limited to the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Expect election cybersecurity concerns to escalate while the clock ticks down to November 8th.