Virginia scraps touchscreen voting machines – The Hill
The Virginia State Board of Elections movedÂ FridayÂ to do away with touchscreen voting machines in the state by Novemberâs election, a move aimed at boosting security.Â
The board decided to phase out the machines this year after theÂ Virginia Department of Elections recommended that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified. The recommendation came after security experts breached numerous types of voting machines with ease at the DEF CON cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas inÂ July, according to TheÂ Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The move comes amid heightened concerns over foreign interference in future elections, in light of the U.S. intelligence communityâs conclusion that Russia used cyberattacks and disinformation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Virginiaâs gubernatorial election will take place in November, meaning that the move to get rid of the machines would result in 22 localities having to replace their equipment less than two months before the vote.
The state has already passed a law mandating that the machines be phased out by 2020. According to the Times-Dispatch, 10 localities have already started purchasing new equipment. The remaining 12 would need to work quickly to phase out the old equipment byÂ Nov. 7.
âThe security of the election process is always of paramount importance. The Department is continually vigilant on matters related to security of voting equipment used in Virginia,â Edgardo CortÃ©s, the stateâs election commissioner, said in a news release Friday. âThe ability to meaningfully participate in our democracy is one of the most important rights that we have as citizens, and the Department of Elections is dedicated to maintaining votersâ confidence in the democratic process.â
Cyber experts have raised alarm over the touchscreen devices, called direct-recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines, because they yield no paper records that can be checked with the electronic records to make sure votes are tallied accurately.
More than 100 cyber and voting experts penned aÂ letterÂ to Congress in June urging them to take steps to secure future elections, including a recommendation to phase out DRE voting machines and others that do not produce a voter-verified paper ballot.
âWhile there has been encouraging progress to improve election security in recent years, too many polling stations across the nation are still equipped with electronic machines that do not produce voter-verified paper ballots,â they wrote. âMany jurisdictions are also inadequately prepared to deal with rising cybersecurity risks.â
The letter was sent the day that Department of Homeland Security officialsÂ testifiedÂ of evidence that Russia targeted election-related systems in 21 states ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
While officials maintain that the systems targeted were not involved in vote tallying, Moscowâs interference campaign has nevertheless stoked fears about the possibility that foreign actors could attempt to use hacking to affect vote counts in the future.