Virginia plans to replace voting machines by November

The State Elections Board of Virginia, on Friday the 8th of September, approved a plan to replace the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used currently in the state due to concerns about hacking in future elections. This was as a result of a memo issued by the Virginia State Department of Elections which recommended that the current DRE voting machines be decertified due to a lack of verifiable paper trails by which voting figures can be tallied against for confirmation.

The DRE voting machines use a touchscreen for selecting candidates which are consequently recorded electronically. Moreover, the memo included the mention of a review by the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) which raised concerns because "in each of the systems, the potential for loss of vote is significant as none of the machines appear to produce paper audit trails during the voting process.” Nevertheless, authors of the memo noted that "concerns with DRE [voting machines] are not new", and pointed out previous DEFCON hacking conferences which involved the hacking of voting machines.

The memo which was sent to the State Election Board members by Edgardo Cortes, the Commissioner for the Department of Elections, officially recommends that:

The Department of Elections officially recommends that the State Board of Elections decertify all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or touchscreen) voting equipment. . . .

In sum, the Department of Elections believes that the risks presented by using this equipment in the November General Election are sufficiently significant to warrant immediate decertification to ensure the continued integrity of Virginia elections.

The State of Virginia had previously passed a law which mandated that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified by 2020, but the memo which has been approved by the state board has moved forward the timetable to not more than 60 days from the memo release date. The new deadline being November 7th effectively puts Virginia on a fast track to decertify and replace the machines in the affected counties. Furthermore, the deadline is of political significance because, on that date, the State of Virginia will be holding the governorship election and various other elections around the state.

Edgardo Cortés confirmed to Politico that election boards of other states had been notified of its recommendations.

Source: Virginia Department of Elections via Engadget, Politico | Image via Reuters

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