You don’t need to be an IT expert to understand what Wisconsin needs to do about election security.
- You know that no computer is immune from manipulation, from either outside hackers or corrupt insiders. For voting machines, those insiders include programmers and technicians working for the voting-machine companies.
- You know that computers are programmed, maintained, and operated by humans and that humans sometimes make mistakes.
- You know that computers sometimes malfunction. With computers, the English language has had to invent words like “glitch,” and give new meaning to words like “bug.”
And you know when something important is at stake — for example, our right to self-government through elections — sensible managers should always check to make sure the computers identified the right winners before they declare the results final.
Wisconsin uses paper ballots, and our election officials could be using those paper ballots after every election to make sure that they certify only the right winners.
What you may not know is that they are not doing that. Except in the rare cases when a race is recounted, Wisconsin election officials let the computers decide the winners, without any verification. Wisconsin’s occasional random voting-machine audits are designed only to detect–not correct–any miscounts. Those audits actually make our elections MORE, not less, attractive to hackers seeking only to cause chaos.
And you may not know how very efficient and inexpensive outcome-securing audits (known as “risk-limiting audits”) could be.
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