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America's Voting Machinery Is Hackable, Falling Apart and Privatized—and the GOP Doesn't Care

Democrats issue a startling report on voting vulnerabilities and propose legislation to protect upcoming elections.

Democrats in Congress have issued what may be their most alarming report ever about the vulnerability of America’s voting machinery to sophisticated adversaries and the limited abilities of government at every level to stop Election Day chaos.

The “Congressional Task Force on Election Security Report,” from the party’s foremost experts on cyber threats in the House, gives new details on Russian hacking of the 2016 election and how the response across many layers of government was often poorly coordinated and marginally ineffective.

For example, as the 2016 presidential election came to a close, the Department of Homeland Security wanted to help states and counties by probing their computer systems to identify hacking vulnerabilities. But it noted that states and localities that sought help had to wait for weeks in October—a timeline out of sync with early November's Election Day. (The report said DHS is now trying to do better.)    

The report also restated how and why the nation’s electronic voting infrastructure is aging, cannot universally be trusted to accurately count votes, is not accompanied by thorough post-election audits to verify vote counts, and is made and maintained by a monopoly of private firms and contractors with little regulation or marketplace pressure to do better.

Its authors are sponsoring legislation to spend hundreds of millions to patch a national system beset by hacking pathways and other vulnerabilities. Not a single Republican in Congress took part in the hearings that produced the report. Nor have Republicans shown interest in acknowledging the cyber threats to voting or the millions needed to fortify the machinery for more trustable elections.

“The president and House Republicans have done nothing,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference releasing the report and the legislation, where she recounted how every top intelligence official appointed by President Trump has recently said that Russia is already meddling in the upcoming 2018 election. “They have refused to take inventory of what our resources are and what they need to be. They have refused to assess what the danger is to our electoral system, while the intelligence community, clearly by consensus, has told them.”

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