The Journal Gazette
Friday, December 13, 2019 1:00 am

State voting security seen as lax

Butler prof says machines leave no paper trail

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A trio of experts on Thursday dissected the vulnerability of Indiana's election systems at a Statehouse panel.

More than 50 Hoosiers attended the event put on by Common Cause Indiana that included a national look at election security as well as a detailed review of Indiana.

The lack of an audit and paper trail has a tangible effect on whether voters trust the system, Dr. Greg Shufeldt – assistant professor of political science at Butler University – told the group.

He noted states have taken divergent paths – some making voting easier and more accessible while others have cracked down on alleged voter fraud. A look at two different electoral integrity studies shows Indiana in the middle or slightly below the middle of the states.

And Shufeldt said the primary thing that makes Indiana vulnerable is its use of direct record electronic machines.

Election lawyer William Groth explained that 58 counties – including Allen – have these machines. They record votes directly into the machine with no paper ballot or trail generated. There is no way for a voter to confirm the machine accurately recorded their intent, and it is more difficult to do recounts.

The 34 other counties have optical scan – a paper-based system that voters mark by hand. They are less expensive and easier to recount. Nearly all election security experts recommend this system, Groth said.

State election officials are spending $6 million to begin retrofitting the direct record machines with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail. But that only covers about 10% of the machines. All counties must stop using the machines by 2030.

“There are more federal regulations on whiskey than election technology,” Groth said, noting the state has $2.3 billion in unspent reserves but instead is spending $50 million to upgrade a swine barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

There is a pending lawsuit to decertify Indiana's paperless machines.

The third speaker – John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island – focused on the different types of audits that can be done. This is different from a recount for a specific race.

“Securing our elections is essential to ensuring every Hoosiers' vote is counted as cast,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana. “As Russians attacked our elections in 2016 and national security experts warn that more foreign countries are attempting to penetrate our nation's election infrastructure in 2020, now is the time for Indiana to modernize and secure our voting systems.”

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