A special commission tasked with evaluating the security of Pennsylvania’s election system is recommending that all voting machines across the state be replaced.
After a five-month study of the state’s most critical election security needs, the Blue Ribbon Commission has released a set of interim recommendations encouraging immediate actions by state and federal legislatures.
Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General- and current Grove City College President- Paul McNulty co-chaired the commission. He said this is ‘not a partisan issue.’
“We must not leave our elections — and therefore our democracy — at risk of cyberattack,” McNulty said in a statement released Wednesday. “There is no question that Pennsylvania’s outdated voting machines must be addressed.”
The commission asserted the vast majority of our state’s voting machines are vulnerable to electronic manipulation and have no paper back-ups to ensure the integrity of elections. The group also stated the state and federal government should do more to help counties pay for the overhaul.
“The vast majority of Pennsylvania’s voting machines are vulnerable to electronic manipulation and have no paper back-ups to ensure the integrity of elections. Giving voters in Pennsylvania and across the country access to trustworthy equipment is a civic duty of the highest priority,” David Hickton, commission co-chair, said. Hickton is founding director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security.
The independent, bipartisan commission was convened earlier this by McNulty and Hickton with support from The Heinz Endowments and the Charles H. Spang Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The committee’s goal is to assess the cybersecurity of Pennsylvania’s election architecture, including voting machines and back-end systems, registration systems and resiliency and recovery in the instance of a cyberattack.
A full report of findings will be released early next year, but the commission released key recommendations Tuesday — including a call to replace vulnerable machines for the 2019 election and for the General Assembly and federal government to help fund the replacement. In 2016, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters used voting machines without an auditable paper trail.
In addition, the commission also recommends ensuring cybersecurity best practices are being followed throughout the supply chain.
Director of Elections in Butler County Shari Brewer has estimated it could cost the county $6 million to replace all of its machines.