The Senate Rules Committee will begin deliberations about the Secure Elections Act this Wednesday, August 22, 2018. The bill must be amended to protect our votes.
This Wednesday, August 22, 2018, the Senate Rules Committee will consider amendments to the Secure Elections Act. Please contact all members of the Senate Rules Committee (contact info linked here) and demand that they amend the Act to require that states: (1) give all voters the option to mark their ballots by hand; and (2) conduct Risk-Limiting Audits for all federal races. (Although Senator Ron Wyden’s PAVE Act already includes these requirements, the Committee is at this time considering only the Secure Elections Act.)
Allowing states to force voters to use touchscreen voting machines and/or touchscreen ballot markers is dangerous and irresponsible. Voters can be disenfranchised if, due to a glitch or malware, the machines fail and polling places lack a backup plan, as occurred recently with the new ExpressVote touchscreens in Johnson County, Kansas. Touchscreens also limit the number of people who can vote at once, causing long lines that disenfranchise voters.
Studies also show that the paper trails generated by touchscreens are unreliable indicators of voter intent because most voters don’t check them. Even if they did, most voters lack 100% recall of the many items on the ballot, making it effectively impossible for them to “verify” all selections.
Meanwhile, new touchscreens like the ExpressVote use unverifiable barcodes that, per IT experts, constitute another potential attack vector for hackers. The barcodes, which humans can’t read and thus can’t verify, are the only part of the paper printout counted as your vote.
But even hand marked paper ballots (the “gold standard” of election integrity) won’t suffice to protect our votes unless states actually use them to confirm the legitimacy of the electronic tallies generated by digital or optical scanners. It is inexcusable that more than half of U.S. states still do not require any type of post-election manual audit whatsoever. In fact, according to computer science and election expert Alex J. Halderman, just two states conduct manual audits sufficiently robust to detect hacking. Accordingly, the Secure Elections Act must also be amended to require Risk Limiting Audits—a type of robust manual audit endorsed by the League of Women Voters, Verified Voting, the American Statistical Association, and Common Cause–for every federal race.
Absent these amendments, the Act will do nothing more than allow politicians to pretend they have done something to secure our votes. This is untenable, especially in light of recent news that vendors like Election Systems & Software, LLC (which accounts for 44% of US election equipment) have installed remote access software and cellular modems in their election equipment.
Here is a link to a document providing phone numbers, email addresses, and twitter handles for all members of the Senate Rules Committee. Please contact all of them. This is our chance to catch their attention. This is our chance to demand that they protect our votes.