New report shows 17 states at high risk for election results compromised due to electronic voting machine problems

A new report released Thursday by Common Cause concludes that the push to use direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines was misguided, has resulted in serious security and reliability concerns, and should be reversed. The report also assesses states at greatest risk of having elections compromised due to problems with voting machines, presents information on voting systems used by each states and makes recommendations on safeguarding votes to citizens who must use a DRE in November.

“With nearly 40 percent of voters in 37 states expected cast ballots on DRE voting machines in less than five months, Congress needs to stop ignoring the problems and take action to assure that citizens votes are counted as cast,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “We need legislation passed that would mandate random manual election audits of voting machines and require voter-verified paper trails, and citizens need to come to the polls knowing how to safeguard their vote.”

The report, Malfunction and Malfeasance: A Report on the Electronic Voting Machine Debacle, finds that 17 states, including critical swing states such as Pennsylvania, are at “high” risk of having election results compromised due to problems with voting machines known as DREs. States designated as high risk because they use DREs with no paper backup are: Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Twenty-three states are at mid-level risk of having election results compromised. Those states use a voter-verified paper trail, but do not conduct manual audits. Eleven states are at “low” risk for a compromised election because they require mandatory audits and use voting systems that have a voter verified paper ballot.

The report also presents information on voting systems used by each state, reviews the political circumstances that led to the popularity of electronic voting machines known as DREs, and details the security and reliability problems posed by DREs. If offers eight recommendations to Congress, states, and citizens on how to safeguard our voting.

Click here to view the report.

Common Cause’s recommendations for addressing the problems include:

Congress should immediately pass HR 550, “The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005,” which would require all voting systems to produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot and would also require manual audits of election machines.

States should pass laws or institute regulations requiring all voting systems to produce a voter verifiable paper ballot, and mandate that jurisdictions randomly conduct manual audits of voting systems.

Election officials should take necessary steps to safeguard machines prior to Election Day.

State election officials should, wherever possible, immediately retrofit DREs with printing systems to produce a voter verifiable paper ballot, and use those ballots in audits.

In the instance where DREs cannot be retrofitted, Common Cause recommends that state election officials decertify those DREs that cannot provide a paper record and turn to other election systems such as optical scan machines for the November elections.

Congress and states should make emergency funds available for purchase or lease of more secure, auditable machines.

Voters should be encouraged to vote on paper whenever possible. If facing the prospect of voting on paperless DREs in November, they should advocate for change with local election officials well before the election. If that does not work, where possible, voters should vote by absentee ballot.

Regardless of the voting equipment in a jurisdiction, citizens should vote. While there is a chance that a vote won’t be counted if cast on a paperless DRE, not voting at all will assure that it is not.

View the report by clicking here.