by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On Election Day 2016, President Trump offered an unequivocal statement on how our elections should be run: “There’s something really nice about the old paper ballot system,” he told Fox News. “You don’t worry about hacking.”
Trump’s view is increasingly becoming the consensus position. There’s growing agreement that the United States needs action to ensure verifiable elections with paper ballots and audits — as well as to patch cybersecurity vulnerabilities and to upgrade dangerously old election infrastructure.
Leading Republican lawmakers, including the chairs of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, have advocated strongly for this agenda. Top Democrats in the House have come around to the position as well. And as of this past month, even the CEO of a major election machine vendor — a player with the most at stake in paperless systems — expressed this view.
So here’s the question: Why hasn’t Congress yet passed legislation to secure America’s elections from foreign interference? It’s up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues to ensure we take action in time for 2020.
The risks are now clear. The Department of Homeland Security has notified 21 states that their election systems have been probed by overseas hackers. This isn’t just another disputed Russia issue. Looming threats could be from China, North Korea, Iran, extremist hacker groups like Anonymous or other enemies, foreign or domestic.
American elections are a soft target.