The federal government is about to change its certification guidelines for voting machines — and election officials across the country are bracing for a wave of misinformation that erodes trust in the 2024 election.
Election officials are not-so-quietly freaking out that this long-awaited technical overhaul of voting machine guidelines later this year will be weaponized against them. The officials, who are used to operating in relative obscurity, just endured two election cycles in which seemingly benign issues blew up in their face. Now they’re afraid it’s happening all over again.
We have serious concerns that false information will mischaracterize the consequences” of the changes, read a March letter from the National Association of State Election Directors to the agency that oversees the change in guidelines. “All their public communications must be unambiguous.”
They have good reason to be worried. After 2020, supporters of former President Donald Trump who were convinced the election was stolen from him spread conspiracy theories about the security of voting machines, pushing for so-called election audits in swing states and advocating for hand counting ballots, something election officials say will take longer, cost more money and be less accurate.
The new standards are a welcome update after years of work from the agency — the Election Assistance Commission — and election officials, and are broadly supported in the election community. They were formally adopted by EAC commissioners in early 2021, and represent a significant leap forward in requirements on everything from cybersecurity to accessibility for voters with disabilities.