TIME: Russia Wants to Undermine Trust in Elections. Here’s How Rhode Island Is Fighting Back
TIME: Russia Wants to Undermine Trust in Elections. Here's How Rhode Island Is Fighting Back
When a group of Rhode Island’s top officials gathered in a chilly warehouse in Providence in mid-January to fight foreign interference in U.S. elections, the mood was festive.
After Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s name was pulled out of a knit Patriots hat, the crowd applauded and cheered uproariously. And when she leaned over a plastic table to roll a 10-sided die typically used for Dungeons and Dragons, people watched intensely.
Then the work began. The number generated from 20 rolls of the dice was used to pick the ballots that would be pulled and tested to see if November’s vote counting had been done correctly, a final fail-safe against a hacked election, all done in plain view of the public. …
But after the 2018 midterms, 14 states still had at least some jurisdictions that vote without any paper trail. This is the most dangerous vulnerability of all, experts say, because without a paper trail, there is no way to audit or verify election results. As election officials around the country prepare for 2020, security advocates hope they will look to Rhode Island and take tangible steps to fortify their votes against any shadow of doubt.
“I’m optimistic that if Rhode Island is successful in proving that a precinct-based voting system can be efficiently audited, that other states with similar systems will take the leap,” says John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, who served as the initial force behind the state’s audit requirement. “I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to execute on that and have it go as smooth as it did,” he told the group at the conclusion of the pilot in January.
“But,” he added, “I’ve walked away with the confidence that we can.”