Amid ongoing congressional investigations into Russia’s unprecedented cyberattacks around the 2016 election, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released a report today outlining specific actions lawmakers can quickly take to insulate voting technology from continued foreign interference.
Securing Elections from Foreign Interference focuses on assessing and securing two of the most vulnerable points in the system: voting machines, which could be hacked to cast doubt on or change vote totals; and voter registration databases, which could be manipulated in an attempt to block voters, cause disruption, and undermine confidence when citizens vote. Amb. R. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence 1993-95, wrote the foreword for the report. He has been a key voice elevating the seriousness of the issue, and framing foreign interference as a pressing national security threat.
Solutions presented in the report are informed by interviews with security experts and election officials. The recommendations are the most immediate steps federal lawmakers and local election officials can take to secure systems before the 2018 and 2020 elections. They include:
Replace old, paperless machines that are still used in 14 states with new, auditable systems that have backup paper records of an individual’s vote
Conduct audits of paper ballots to ensure machines are accurately recording votes
Regularly assess vulnerabilities in and fortify cyber defenses of computerized voter registration systems
Support efforts to upgrade or replace IT infrastructure, especially at the local level where systems often run on discontinued software like Windows XP and 2000 that is more vulnerable to cyberattacks