Report says eight states to use paperless voting in 2020 despite security concerns

Greg Nash

At least eight states are on course to use paperless voting equipment, or machines without paper records, as the primary polling place equipment during the 2020 elections, a report published Tuesday by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found.

The report said that around 12 percent of Americans, or about 16 million people, will vote on paperless machines in 2020 and will have no paper record of how they voted. 

{mosads}Many of these Americans will vote in the eight states that will use some form of paperless voting in 2020: Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky and New Jersey. 

“Experts have longed warned that these machines are a security risk because they do not allow election officials or the public to confirm electronic vote totals,” the report’s authors wrote. 

The report said the number of Americans expected to cast votes through paperless machines is down from 20 percent in 2016, when 14 states used some form of paperless voting machines.

Pennsylvania, Georgia and South Carolina are on course to replace all paperless voting machines by 2020, while Arkansas, Virginia and Delaware have already completed this process.

The authors wrote that more funding from Congress would allow states to replace paperless voting machines and cut down on the number of Americans expected to use them in 2020. 

Congress appropriated $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission to send to states for securing elections in 2018.

Further funding has been blocked in the Senate, where many Republicans have noted that some of the original funds have yet to be spent.

The report’s authors wrote that “while there has been substantial progress in securing voting machines since 2016, there is still much to do ahead of 2020.”

The report cites the findings of the recently published first volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. That report, published in July, recommended that states replace outdated voting systems with “a voter-verified paper trail,” in which machines at least print out a paper record of the vote, and that states adopt election audits. 

The Brennan Center said more than 12 states are now exploring or using risk-limiting audits, which involve manually checking a sample of the votes cast to ensure they have not been tampered with. 

The center’s report also examined the number of aging or outdated voting equipment used throughout the country. It found that during the 2018 midterm elections, 34 percent of local election jurisdictions were using voting machines that were at least a decade old as their primary form of voting.

“States and counties need more resources for items like cybersecurity support for local election jurisdictions and upgrades to voter registration databases and other critical election systems,” the Brennan Center report said.

-Updated at 11:20 a.m.

Tags Election Security Indiana Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi New Jersey Tennessee Texas

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