Distrust in voting system ahead of midterms
AS OTHERS SEE IT
A poll released Wednesday suggests a strong majority of Americans do not trust the nation’s voting systems.
With the midterm elections days away, Americans worry we still are vulnerable to hackers, according to the poll from The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The data suggests Democrats have grown increasingly concerned about election security while Republicans have grown more confident. That’s roughly unchanged from concerns about election security held by Americans just before the 2016 presidential election, except two years ago it was Republicans who were more concerned about the integrity of the election.
According to the AP report, by 58 percent to 39 percent, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they are very concerned about hackers affecting U.S. election systems. That represents a flip from the results of a similar survey taken in 2016.
The same partisan divide exists in the confidence Americans hold in the accuracy of vote tallies for the upcoming midterm elections. Republicans are more confident – a reversal.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they are at least somewhat concerned about the hacking of voter registration systems, voting equipment and final election results, with at least 4 in 10 saying they are extremely or very concerned about each.
Also on Wednesday, leading experts in the field of election security released a report outlining the serious and unaddressed threat to the integrity of the nation’s elections and democracy posed by the continued use of online voting in 32 states.
The report highlights that at the very least, nearly 100,000 ballots were reported to have been cast online in the 2016 general election. The report, “Email and Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security,” examines the threats faced by various forms of online voting, including blockchain internet voting. Due to the extensive vulnerabilities, the report emphasizes that online voting must be discontinued completely by 2020, and recommends short-term best practices for voters and election officials in the 2018 election.
The report was jointly released by experts in the field of election security from the National Election Defense Coalition, R Street Institute, Association for Computing Machinery, US Technology Policy Committee and Common Cause. Experts in the private sector, government and military have studied the feasibility of internet-based voting for years and concluded that it is not secure and should be curtailed, the report finds. Despite those conclusions, and repeated warnings from leaders of the U.S. intelligence apparatus of ongoing attacks on our nation’s election system by foreign nations, voters are already casting ballots online in the 2018 election.
Obviously, the fear stems from news about foreign attacks on our systems.
This year, the nation’s intelligence agencies warned that Russia and others remain interested in interfering in U.S. elections, but have emphasized that they have detected no targeting of election systems on the level seen ahead of the 2016 vote. The result: Nearly 8 in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned about potential hacking, with 45 percent saying they are extremely or very concerned. Just 22 percent have little or no confidence that votes will be counted accurately.
Here in Vermont, Secretary of State Jim Condos and his election division have been working diligently to look at safeguards against such attacks. In recent months he has been pushing cybersecurity and voter registration.
“You should know that Vermont is considered a national leader as we protect our elections systems from attacks by foreign bad actors to make sure that every vote is protected and accounted for,” Condos wrote in a recent op-ed.
Federal, state and local election officials have scrambled over the past two years to shore up cybersecurity defenses of election systems, improve communications about potential cyber threats and reassure the public that all steps are being taken to protect the vote.