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Trump Cyber Official Warns Voting Machines Need Paper Trails

Trump Cyber Official Warns Voting Machines Need Paper Trails

  • Five states currently don’t produce paper records of votes
  • Testifies to House committee on 2020 election security
Voters fill out ballots at a polling station in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Voters fill out ballots at a polling station in Janesville, Wisconsin. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Voters fill out ballots at a polling station in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A top Trump administration cybersecurity official warned that voting machines must produce paper receipts to protect against hacking in the 2020 election, demonstrating wariness of a decades-long trend toward electronic voting amid efforts by Russia and China to influence U.S. elections.

“If you don’t know what’s happening and you can’t check back across the system what’s happening in the system, then you don’t really have security,” Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said in testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security. The ability to audit voting and voter registration is “the greatest area of need,” he said.

Five states currently use machines that don’t produce paper records: Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey and Delaware.

U.S. officials are still working to understand and combat efforts by other nations -- including Russia and Iran -- to influence 2016 and 2018 elections. While election security is “light years” ahead of where it was three years ago, there are still “challenges with basic cyber hygiene,” such as patching systems and two-factor authentication, Krebs said.

Meetings between Krebs’s agency and new secretaries of state, who run elections, were delayed during the partial government shutdown last month, he said. Vulnerability assessments also were delayed, he added.

Thomas Hicks, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said that officials are also reviewing the supply-chain of voting equipment with foreign components, adding that he had “very little concern” about the risk they posed given the capabilities of the American labs certifying the machines.