Ideas. Action. Results.

Vulnerable Voting Machine Raises Questions About Election Security

NPR

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Computer security experts have warned for years that some voting machines are vulnerable to attack. And this week, in Virginia, the state Board of Elections decided to impose an immediate ban on touchscreen voting machines used in 20 percent of the state’s precincts, because of newly discovered security concerns.

The problems emerged on Election Day last November in Spotsylvania County. The AVS WINVote touchscreen machines used in precinct 302 began to shut down…

The good news, is that these machines — purchased over a decade ago — are no longer made or used anywhere else in the country. But the Virginia action comes amid growing concern that much of the nation’s voting equipment is getting old and outdated and will need to be replaced soon.

Tammy Patrick is a former Arizona election official, now with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. She served on a presidential commission that studied the issue.

“We don’t want to be yelling fire in the crowded theater,” she said. “But you also want to make sure that the voting public still has confidence that their ballots are going to be counted as cast.”

Patrick said the biggest obstacle for localities will be finding enough money to buy new equipment. And that’s the challenge now for Virginia localities that had hoped to eke out another election or two using the old machines.

KEYWORDS: PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON ELECTION ADMINISTRATION, TAMMY PATRICK