It’s time to end electronic voting

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By Michael d’Oliveira

Once the wave of the future, electronic voting in the U.S. needs to be a part of the past.

This month, multiple media outlets reported that children at a hacking conference successfully demonstrated ways they could hack U.S. voting systems.

There is now the possibility that a foreign power or a non-state actor could tamper with our election results. And the goal may not even be to get a preferred candidate to win. It may just be about sewing mistrust and doubt about the system, which could undermine the legitimacy of the actual legitimate winner.

In an article by The Guardian, Jake Braun, a former White House liaison on cybersecurity, says, “’We know that Russia has done this before. They did it in the Ukraine, where they hacked Ukrainian election results on the government website. Fortunately, the Ukrainians caught it and shut the website down. But then the Russians announced that their candidate had won on RT, when he hadn’t.’ Disarray ensued, and the Russian press had a foothold from which to begin spreading the allegation that the winner of the election wasn’t legitimate.”

Braun also says, “The No 1 thing we found last year wasn’t a hack at all, it was the fact that we opened up the back of the machine, and of course, no surprise, all the parts are made across the world, especially China.”

To solve this, we could throw a lot of money at better security for our elections. But that’s no guarantee of anything. These hackers almost always seem to get around whatever security is in place. Obviously, they aren’t always successful. But the failure to 100 percent guarantee the security of our elections is enough of a reason to turn back the clock on electronic voting.

It’s time to go back to paper ballots, a system that worked fine the entire time it was in use. The only exception was the 2000 election and the “hanging chads.” Those chads were a mistake but one that can be easily avoided.

Paper ballots are more secure than electronic voting and practically immune from tampering from a foreign power or a bunch of hackers somewhere in China or Eastern Europe.

I don’t know how much it would cost to do an all paper ballot system. But having a stable Democracy where the majority of Americans have faith in the reported results is worth the extra cost.

As for the timeliness of tallying the results, that’s never been a problem for paper ballots. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s last election was in 1944 and the results were announced within a day or two of the election. Plenty of time for the winner of an election to get ready to take the oath of office in January.

It’s time to return to paper ballots. It was a good, effective and trustworthy system and there’s no reason why it can’t be again.

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