Good News For Russia: 15 States Use Easily Hackable Voting Machines

The touch-screen voting machines in Louisiana are more than 10 years old, and the state is looking to replace them ― though Sunstrom says they don’t plan to use paper ballots because “people don’t like paper ballots at all!” 

Even in jurisdictions where election officials want to get rid of their touch-screen machines, most states don’t have the money to purchase new equipment. After the George W. Bush-Al Gore recount debacle in 2000, when punch-card voting machines rendered some ballots unreadable, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which has provided states with over $3 billion to modernize their equipment. All 50 states took the money, and most of them used it to buy touch-screen DRE voting machines.

The act, passed in 2002, “fundamentally changed the market for voting machines,” election experts Lawrence Norden and Christopher Famighetti >wrote in a Brennan Center for Justice report. By 2006, >38 percent of registered voters used electronic voting machines, compared with 12 percent in 2000.

But within a few years, demonstrations of how vulnerable those new machines are to tampering caused most jurisdictions to switch to paper ballots. Last November, at least 80 percent of voters made their selections on a paper ballot or an electronic machine that also produces a paper trail, the Brennan Center >found.

The Brennan Center estimates that replacing the country’s paperless voting machines would cost $130 million to $400 million ― a fraction of what Congress allocated in 2002. But most states have already spent the money they got from the federal government, and some of those still using touch-screen systems are simply accustomed to their convenience.

When election officials argue that their DRE machines are secure, it’s hard to tell if they really doubt warnings from experts or if they are reluctant to cast doubt on machines they can’t afford to replace. Officials are “sensitive to the risk of undermining confidence in elections,” said Felten, who went on to serve in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama. “That can make it difficult to have straightforward conversations about the risks that exist.”

New Jersey, which is among the states that rely entirely on electronic voting machines, >passed a law in 2005 requiring all voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper record by Jan. 1, 2008, ahead of the state’s presidential primary. But the law was extended and ultimately never implemented because of funding issues. Upgrading the state’s voting systems was projected to cost $19 million.

“That $19 million is going to be used to help people who can’t find jobs, feed their families or heat their homes,” Assemblywoman Joan Quigley >said in 2009.

Part of the reason it is so difficult to get the nation equipped with secure voting equipment is the decentralized nature of elections in the U.S. There are about 8,000 election jurisdictions in the country, and procedures are regulated at the state level. The Help America Vote Act created an Election Assistance Commission, but its guidelines are voluntary and “not at all rigorous,” Halderman argues. Lawmakers have, by and large, been hesitant to impose more restrictive standards on states out of fear that they’ll be accused of federal overreach.

Donna Curling, a 62-year-old stay-at-home mother in Georgia, spent two years traveling  to Washington to lobby lawmakers to pass a law requiring states to use election equipment that would leave a paper trail. Members of Congress were sympathetic to her concerns about the electronic machines used in her home state, but most ― especially Republicans, she recalled ― said it wasn’t the federal government’s place to tell states how to run elections.

Curling stopped making the trips to D.C. in 2009, after years of unsuccessful conversations with lawmakers. “It takes over your life,” she said.

But then Curling read a news story in March about a >data breach at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems, which tests and programs Georgia’s voting machines, and decided it was time to get involved again. Curling filed a lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp earlier this year in an effort to force the use of paper ballots in the June 20 congressional runoff election, in which Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams >wrote in June that Curling’s “concern that the DRE voting system lack a verification feature is legitimate.” But the judge ultimately denied the request, citing a lack of evidence and a sovereign immunity clause that applies to the secretary of state.

Curling >filed another lawsuit earlier this month, this time asking the judge to overturn the June 20 election results and get rid of the state’s electronic voting machines. She says she is motivated not by a preference in candidates but by a concern that it’s impossible to know who really won the election with the equipment the state currently uses. While Curling identifies as a Democrat, one of her co-plaintiffs is a registered Republican. 


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Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/electronic-voting-machines-hack-russia_us_5967e1c2e4b03389bb162c96

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