Everything Old is New Again: Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback

In the words of Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY reporter, voting machines were “once about as newsworthy as your water meter.”1  This, however, is no longer the case, as voting machines are suddenly making headlines in the wake of mounting evidence Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In fact, a bipartisan pair of U.S. senators plans to introduce legislation seeking to increase the cyber defenses of state election systems, after warnings from senior U.S. officials that future elections may be vulnerable to foreign interference.

The SAVE Act, or Securing America’s Voting Equipment, is the latest attempt by U.S. lawmakers to respond to what U.S. intelligence agencies say was a “multi-pronged cyber operation, including hacking and online propaganda by Russia during the 2016 presidential election.”2

The DHS in January designated voting systems as a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure, making state elections eligible for additional federal protections, and the SAVE Act would authorize the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to grant security clearance to each state’s top election official as well as to one other designee. It would also allow the DNI to share some classified information with the states about threats to their voting systems. Finally, the legislation creates a grant program for states to upgrade their systems to better defend against physical and cyber threats.

While it is unclear how much momentum this legislation will have in the days to come, some states are responding to this recent news and legislative activity by rewinding technology and debating measures that would add paper ballots — similar to how many Americans voted before the movement toward electronic voting in the 1980s.  For example, the state of Virginia has announced it will no longer use touch-screen-only voting.

Inclusion Solutions is ready for the outcome of these debates in either scenario.  Our MXB voting booth is perfect for those states using electronic voting machines, and our Franklin voting booth is ideal for paper ballots.  For additional information on how Inclusion Solutions can help should you make a change, please contact us at 866-232-5487.

 

  1. Weise, Elizabeth. “Paper Ballots are Back in Vogue Thanks to Russian Hacking Fears.”  USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/09/19/russia-hacking-election-fears-prompts-states-to-switch-to-paper-ballots/666020001/ (Visited 11/1/17)
  2. Volz, Dustin. “Senators to introduce bill to boost cyber defenses of voting systems.”    Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-election/senators-to-introduce-bill-to-boost-cyber-defenses-of-voting-systems-idUSKBN1D022S?utm_source=applenews  (Visited 11/1/17)

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