Election Security Update: How Vulnerable is your State?

American flag waving in the wind, cherry blossoms can be seen in the foregroundThe American electoral process has been a topic of national conversation since the 2016 presidential election, when Russian hackers targeted the voter registration databases of in 21 states and attempted to “hack” election technology. In their new report Election Security Update: Top 18 Most Vulnerable States, the Committee on House Administration Democrats assessed the 18 most vulnerable states to determine whether the state’s response to the threats and vulnerability it is facing is sufficient. Criteria for a state’s response include requesting and utilizing funding from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), to which Congress appropriated $380 million in March 2018.

States are categorized to the following rankings:

  • Tier 1: “States that have the most serious election security vulnerabilities. These states rely exclusively on electronic voting machines that do not have a paper record. It is nearly impossible to determine if paperless voting machines have been hacked and if vote tallies have been altered.”
  • Tier 2: “States that have significant election security vulnerabilities but may not be planning on using federal assistance to address their biggest vulnerabilities.”
  • Tier 3: “States that have significant election security vulnerabilities and are using their federal funds to address those issues, though they need additional assistance to fully upgrade their election infrastructure.”

One of the most effective measures a state can take to protect its voting system is to move away from paperless voting machines that record votes on internal memory, to voting machines that provide a paper trail.  States should also upgrade their IT infrastructure, and provide election staff with increased cyber security training.

If you are interested in learning more on this topic, you can view more resources here or at our featured topic Cyber Crime and National Security. Please note: HSDL login is required to view some of these resources. You may also click here to ask a librarian.