Pennsylvania delivers on election security as states become tip of the spear in 2020
Every one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties is set to have new voting machines that leave paper trails behind by the time voters cast their ballots in 2020, according the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s a vital step and perhaps the most consequential one any state can take in terms of securing the votes of its citizens before the upcoming presidential election. In 2018, most Pennsylvania voters cast votes on paperless machines.
“The shift from paperless [electronic] machines to having individual paper ballots is a sea change,” the policy director for the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security policy, Christopher R. Deluzio, told the Inquirer. “It’s great, it’s huge, it was necessary.”
News of Pennsylvania’s advances come as state government officials take the front lines in fighting to keep foreign influence out of the 2020 elections. The Associated Press reports that 120 state and local election officials recently met just outside the nation’s capital to discuss election security. The representatives from 24 states—including California, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia—were attending a training held by the Harvard-affiliated Defending Digital Democracy Project, which has been partnering with military and national security experts as well as political and communications professionals.
“It’s another level of war,” Jesse Salinas, the chief elections official in Yolo County, California, told the AP. “You only attack things that you feel are a threat to you, and our democracy is a threat to a lot of these nation-states that are getting involved trying to undermine it. We have to fight back, and we have to prepare.”
Much of the training simulates military techniques of communication in order to coordinate states and counties and identify problems in real time across geographic locations. The project was founded by former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, former Mitt Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, and Eric Rosenbach, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who served as chief of staff to Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
“One of the big takeaways was just how the lack of one piece of information moving up from the counties to the state or moving from the states to counties, if either of those things don’t happen, it can have a significant impact,” said Stephen Trout, elections director for Oregon.
Donald Trump may be welcoming foreign interference in 2020 at every turn but multiple efforts are underway both at the state and federal levels to combat the very influence he is seeking. It’s quite stunning that local, state, and federal officials are seeking to safeguard American democracy from our very own president.