As many as 16 million Americans, or roughly 12 percent of voters, are expected to cast ballots in 2020 using potentially vulnerable paperless equipment, a report said Tuesday.
Released by The Brennan Center with less than 15 months left in the 2020 presidential campaign, the report recommended that Congress allocate additional funding for state and local election officials to replace aging machines at risk of exploitation.
Fourteen states used paperless voting machines in at least some municipalities during the 2016 election, three transitioned to paper-based equipment in the years since and three more are slated to follow suit by 2020, bringing the total number of states using paperless machines in at least some towns and counties next year to no more than eight, the report found.
Though the number of states using paperless equipment has nearly halved since 2017, the report said “a significant number of voters” are set to cast ballots on machines incapable of leaving a verifiable paper trail.
“Using voter registration and turnout data from the 2016 and 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey and 2018 voting equipment data from Verified Voting, we estimate that as many as 12 of voters (approximately 16 million voters) will vote on paperless equipment in November 2020. This compares to 20 percent of voters (27.5 million) in 2016,” the report said.
Russian hackers attempted to probe election systems in all 50 states during the 2016 race, according to a report released last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Officials briefed by the FBI previously said the hackers successfully breached computers in at least two Florida counties during the campaign but failed to alter any data. Russia has denied responsibility.
Security researchers, in addition to members of the Senate committee, among others, have recommended that election officials replace paperless voting systems with machines less likely of being hacked.
“Paper ballots and optical scanners are the least vulnerable to cyber attack; at minimum, any machine purchased going forward should have a voter-verified paper trail and remove (or render inert) any wireless networking capability,” the Senate report recommended.
More recently, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called Monday for colleagues to pass an election security bill that would require the use of paper ballots, among other measures.
“I would like to see the federal government play a very active role alongside the states in stopping (election hacking),” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, The Albany Times Union reported.
Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.