“Election Security in All 50 States”–New CAP Report and Big Monday Event

Center for American Progress:

In 2016, America’s elections were targeted by a foreign nation-state intent on infiltrating and manipulating our electoral system. On September 22, 2017, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 21 states that were targeted by hackers during the 2016 election.1 Among those states notified by DHS were: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.2 Arizona, California, Iowa, Texas, and Wisconsin were also among those states originally contacted by DHS. However, those states have denied that their election systems were attacked.3 Ultimately, hackers only reportedly succeeded in breaching the voter registration system of one state: Illinois.4 And while DHS did not name those responsible for the attempted hacks, many believe the culprits can be traced back to Russia.5 Experts have warned that a future attack on our election infrastructure, by Russia or other malicious actors, is all but guaranteed.6

By now, the American people have been alerted to many vulnerabilities in the country’s election systems, including the relative ease of voting machine hacking,7 threats to voter registration systems and voter privacy,8 and disinformation campaigns waged by foreign nation-states aimed at confusing voters and inciting conflict.9 If left unaddressed, these vulnerabilities threaten to undermine the stability of our democratic system….

The main takeaway from the Center for American Progress’ research and analysis is that all states have room for improvement:

  • Fourteen states use paperless DRE machines in at least some jurisdictions. Five states rely exclusively on paperless DRE machines for voting.
  • Thirty-three states have post-election audit procedures that are unsatisfactory from an election security standpoint, due either to the state’s use of paperless DRE machines, which cannot be adequately audited, or other factors. At least 18 states do not legally require post-election audits or require jurisdictions to meet certain criteria before audits may be carried out.
  • Thirty-two states allow regular absentee voters and/or U.S. citizens and service members living or stationed abroad to return voted ballots electronically, a practice deemed insecure by election and cybersecurity experts.
  • At least 10 states do not provide cybersecurity training to election officials.

This point cannot be overemphasized: Even states that received a B or a C have significant vulnerabilities that leave them susceptible to hacking and infiltration by sophisticated nation-states. However, by making meaningful changes to how elections are carried out, states can improve their overall election security while supporting public confidence in election procedures and outcomes…..

And this event Monday:

Due to popular demand this event is full and we are no longer accepting RSVPs. Please tune in to the livestream of this event!

In 2016, Russia sought to breach the U.S. elections, including attempting to hack into many states’ election systems. Fourteen months later, despite many states taking proactive measures, U.S. election infrastructure remains vulnerable to attacks. Without leadership from this administration to defend America’s elections from attacks by sophisticated enemies who want to undermine our democratic process, the necessary funding and resources to protect future elections have not been forthcoming. Despite bipartisan efforts in Congress to bolster election security and provide needed funding, legislation remains blocked.

The Center for American Progress is releasing a report on election security preparedness in all 50 states, assigning grades to each state. CAP’s research and report card are designed to identify and provide information on strengths and shortcomings in each state’s election security preparedness. A better understanding of how each state can improve its election security preparedness can help build urgency for appropriate solutions and arm stakeholders with information to demand increased security measures.

Please join CAP for a discussion about best practices and the vulnerabilities in election infrastructure that threaten to undermine America’s free and fair elections—the cornerstone of our self-government. We will feature major figures on the front lines of this important national security issue.

Introductory remarks:
Neera Tanden, President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Keynote remarks: 
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Part I: Armchair discussion:
Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Moderated by:
Neera Tanden, President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Part II: Panel discussion:
Judd Choate, Director of Elections, State of Colorado
Edgardo Cortes, former Commissioner of Elections, Commonwealth of Virginia
Jamil Jaffer, Founder, National Security Institute, George Mason University Law School

Moderated by:
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Center for American Progress

 

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