Their view: Go old-school to head off election hacking
DULUTH--The drumbeat of speculation that the Russians somehow hacked, disrupted, or even altered the U.S. presidential election culminated in recommendations last week to prevent what only may have happened from ever happening again.
DULUTH-The drumbeat of speculation that the Russians somehow hacked, disrupted, or even altered the U.S. presidential election culminated in recommendations last week to prevent what only may have happened from ever happening again.
As odd as that sentence may sound, its stated goal may be even more baffling in states such as Minnesota, where election tampering just isn't an issue.
That's because "we still are a pen-and-paper state. Hard to hack paper," as Secretary of State Steve Simon pointed out in a recent interview.
"We have a longstanding, really strong, bipartisan insistence in this state for always having a paper trail."
Such documentation isn't in place in at least 14 states, many of which converted to paperless, touch-screen or other more-modern forms of voting technology after the hanging-chads controversy in Florida that followed the 2000 presidential vote. But old-school states such as Minnesota now seem far better insulated from elections-tampering.
Yes, in Minnesota, ballots marked with pens are fed into a counting machine, but that machine, in accordance with state law, cannot be and shall not be connected in any way to the internet. So hacking isn't possible there, either.
None of this is to suggest that the recommendations released last week should be ignored. They certainly can be considered - and in all states, too, no matter how voters vote.
The top recommendation from both the Brennan Center for Justice and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds is to return, nationwide, to paper ballots and backup paper records. States such as Minnesota can simply check this one off.
Other "solutions" put forward by the Brennan Center included audits of paper ballots to ensure accuracy, regular assessments of vulnerabilities in computerized voter-registration systems, and updates to outdated IT infrastructure.
"The history of national defense shows that threats are constantly evolving. When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, we took action to protect our fleet. When we were attacked on 9/11, we took action to upgrade transportation security and protect our ports and other vulnerable targets," James Woolsey, director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995, wrote in the foreword to the Brennan Center report. "We were attacked in 2016. The target was not ships or airplanes or buildings, but the machinery of our democracy. ... We must act again - or leave our democracy at risk."
Said Reynolds in an op-ed for USA Today, "voter ID should be strictly enforced, as it is in all advanced democracies, to ensure that only eligible voters vote.
"And voter registrations should be audited frequently to ensure the removal of voters who have died or moved away. Maybe we should even dye voters' fingers to prevent revoting, as is done in many other countries. There's no way to hack that."
Being hack-proof: that can be the goal - bearing in mind that, sometimes, less technology and more old-school can equal improved security.
-- Duluth News Tribune