AUSTIN, Texas -- As attention increasingly turns to the 2020 elections, officials are working hard to make sure the election process is secure. But a new study finds the voting machines hundreds of districts have switched over to, including Austin and San Antonio, don't have enough safeguards against hacking.
- New voting machines recently unveiled
- Study shows human error can be a factor
- Concerns about hacking exist
If you voted in November, you know the process has changed a bit, specifically when you get to the step where you're supposed to review your ballot after you've electronically made your selections.
“We ask voters to voter verify. That’s a new thing for a voter, a new thing we’re asking them to do,” said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir.
Now, you must check that who you voted for on the screen reflects what you see on your printed ballot card before you insert that card into a separate computer.
According to a new study from the University of Michigan, too many voters are skipping that step. Researches intentionally altered the ballot choices of about 240 participants. Only 40 percent of those voters reviewed their ballots and caught the mistake. And of that, only 7 percent told a poll worker there was an error.
“The concern is that if the machine prints something that isn’t what you voted, you simply won’t notice,” said Dan Wallach.
Wallach studies election security for Rice University. He says not only can technology malfunction, but there is a possibility that electronic voting machines, although not connected to the internet during the election, can be hacked.
“Before the election begins, you have to say, these are the candidates, these are the races, these are the precincts, all of this stuff has to be downloaded into the voting machines. That could be an opportunity for a hacker to have an in to tamper with the machines before the election begins,” said Wallach.
DeBeauvoir says more than 200,000 people voted in the constitutional amendment election back in November without issue. It was a low-turnout election, ahead of the presidential contest.
“We wanted to have some time for our office, the county clerk’s office, and the elections judges to have some practice, some experience with a brand new system,” said DeBeauvoir.
A system that proponents say provides a paper trail that catches computer errors, or hacks, but makes you the voter the last line of defense.