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Report addresses election security

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by Katy McElroy

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has recently released a report, co-authored by Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, on how to make elections more auditable and secure. Out of the 41 recommendations, a county press release notes that the authors agree that Recommendation 4.11 is the most important: “All new voting systems must have a human-readable paper ballot trail by 2020.” The release also cites three more that are of note:

4.1: Improve protections for Voter Registration databases, which are internet connected, including better scanning and assessments of intrusion attempts, plans for better database integrity, and coordination with the U. S. Department of Homeland Security now that elections has been declared critical infrastructure.

5.8: Within the next 10 years, states should mandate Risk-Limiting Audits after every election using the paper ballot trail.

5.11: At the present time, the Internet should not be used for the return of voted ballots because there is no known technology which can guarantee the secrecy, security, and verifiability of a marked ballot over the Internet.

In addition, the report calls for more research, record keeping, and sharing of election security best practices. In the release, DeBeauvoir expresses the county’s excitement to integrate these recommendations with its new voting system. “With our new voting system, voters get best of both worlds – the speed and accuracy of an electronic voting system coupled with a paper trail” she said. “It provides federally-required support for voters with disabilities in their right to cast a secret and independent ballot, and allows us to continue our robust Early Voting and Election Day Vote Centers – programs voters love. The system allows for fast, accurate election night reporting, and contains a paper trail that provides physical proof that ballots were cast as intended and counted as cast. Moreover, with this investment in voting security, we will be able to implement some of the recommendations of the NASEM report, such as Risk Limiting Audits.” Download the full report here.

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