I am a Virginian of long standing. I have been involved in programs to help ensure election integrity, and I have been alarmed at what I’ve learned.

Most problems related to hacking into voting systems occur because electronic voting machines provide: (a) features that allow outside access, along with (b) lack of verifiable/auditable paper trails. Thus, if machines mysteriously change voters’ choices, no one is the wiser.

There are a number of technological features in voting machines that pave the way for illicit entry and/or hacking. These features are unknown to many election officials because many election offices cannot afford to employ dedicated IT staff to help run their operations and oversee and prevent hacking.

Fortunately, since implementing paper ballots statewide, Virginia is not among states that are most vulnerable. This does not mean that Virginia is in the clear. Understaffing and under-equipping during Election Day cause a host of problems, which often lead to prohibitively long lines, which in turn lead to lost votes. And with a lack of robust auditing, many votes incorrectly tabulated or counted are not discovered.

Virginia and other states need to implement election infrastructure and procedures that provide robust audit capability. For other states and localities, purchase of secure voting machines that provide a voter-verifiable paper trail (not vote information converted to a bar code) must be undertaken.

To help fund these efforts, the U.S. Senate must appropriate $600 million, already approved by the House of Representatives, for states’ election systems now, in time for the 2020 elections. We stand to lose the first pillar of our democracy, that of free and fair elections, without improvements to our election infrastructure.

Our senators must fight to allocate $600 million to secure our elections.

Peg Futrell

Albemarle County

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