Senator Calls For All-Paper Voting Amid Fears Of Foreign Hackers

Eric Lieberman | Deputy Editor

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden expressed his concern over foreign hackers and suggested in an email the U.S. should adopt the paper ballot voting system his state employs.

“We should not underestimate how dangerous… attacks on election systems could be,” Wyden wrote in an email to Ars Technica.

“If a foreign state were to eliminate registration records for a particular group of Americans immediately before an election, they could very likely disenfranchise those Americans and swing the results of an election,” he continued. (RELATED: Hackers May Bring Back The Paper Ballot)

There has been an uptick in cyber-attacks and breaches over the recent years.

WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails in July. While the government is a popular target for hackers, businesses also fall victim. Twenty hotels discovered that potentially nefarious cybercriminals were able to gain access to computers that contained personal information like credit card numbers. (RELATED: 3 Out Of 4 Organizations Hacked Due To Internal Sloppiness)

President Barack Obama formally accused Russia of hacking the U.S. last week.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” a government statement read.

While the 2000 presidential contest experienced issues with paper ballots due to the infamous “hanging chads,” foreign and domestic cybercriminals are 2016’s biggest cause for concern.

A University of Michigan professor showcased how easy it is to hack voting technology, both from 500 miles away and while directly in contact with the voting machines.

Five states use “Direct Recording Electronic Voting Machines without Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail Printers,” according to the organization Verified Voting. In other words, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Delaware and New Jersey only offer electronic voting and have no backup mechanism if the data is obscured, altered or deleted.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is encouraging election agencies across the country to approach the government for help with cybersecurity, despite several incidences of the government being hacked.

“Time is a factor,” an Oct. 10 press release states. “There are only 29 days until election day, and it can take up to two weeks from the time we receive authorization to run the scans and identify vulnerabilities. It can then take at least an additional week for state and local election officials to mitigate any vulnerabilities on systems that we may find.”

Wyden introduced legislation called the Vote by Mail Act of 2016 to the Senate in July to disallow the prospect of cyber-breaches into voting systems by mandating the use of paper ballots.

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Tags : department of homeland security jeh johnson oregon ron wyden
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