Elections in the UK are more likely to bring to mind visions of kindly pensioners in church halls ticking names off lists than shadowy hacking groups attempting to subvert democracy. But hackers, with terrifying powers to spread fake news on a massive scale, are fast becoming a reality of British politics. Last year, ahead of the local elections, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a division of spy agency GCHQ, published a starkly worded report for local authorities which warned of “insider activity” that could attempt to “manipulate or compromise electoral information or processes for financial gain [or] ideological reasons.” The report urged local authorities to make regular backups of the electoral roll and to keep these backups in secure facilities to make it more difficult for hackers to access them. Ask spies and security experts about the digital threat to elections and you’ll encounter the curious lexicon of intelligence agencies. Hackers are known as “threat actors” who engage in either overt or covert influence campaigns. And when hackers manage to break into a computer network, they typically create an “implant” which allows them to return or to funnel data out without anyone noticing. A series of government departments have found themselves at the frontline of the battle to keep elections secure. In recent months, committee hearings in the Houses of Parliament and briefings by spy agencies have outlined how the government keeps elections safe.
Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Praises Pennsylvania’s Election Reform Package that Helps Counties Purchase Voting Machines
View the statement here: Verified Voting Statement on Election Reform Package
Marian K. Schneider: “This funding ensures the smooth transition to secure and verifiable voting systems.”
“Verified Voting is pleased with the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf’s commitment to an election reform package that includes funding for counties to help pay for the replacement of electronic voting systems. The passage of the legislation removes all doubt about the legal authority of the Commonwealth to issue $90 million in bond financing.
“State funding for voting system replacement will greatly reduce the budgetary strain on counties and allow them to fund staff training, poll worker training and voter education efforts, all of which are important to ensure a smooth transition. Election security is a nonpartisan issue and the goal of hardening our voting systems against potential threats is shared across the aisle. Counties’ access to these funds is what is needed to ensure a smooth transition to paper-based electronic systems and routine, robust audits.
“A significant number of Pennsylvania counties have already moved forward towards replacement and we applaud their efforts. Without voting systems that retain a voter-marked paper ballot for recounts and audits, Pennsylvania’s elections will be dogged by legitimacy questions and will be the easiest targets for motivated attackers. This legislation as a whole will make voting easier, but the replacement of voting systems will assure Pennsylvanians that they have a verifiable method of voting and their votes will be counted as cast.