Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. The mechanics of how we vote, and how those votes are counted, are critical to ensuring our votes are meaningful. EFF supports paper records for every vote, and automatic, risk limiting audits for every election. We'll oppose legislation that doesn't include those two critical measures. EFF opposes online voting.
In 2018, several senators introduced the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act. This proposal mandates the use of paper ballots and risk-limiting audits in every federal election, which will assure that our democratic process isn’t hijacked by hackers or foreign powers. It’s a great step forward, and we hope Congress considers a similar bill in a future session.
Touchscreen voting machines, counting machines, and other devices involved in elections are subject to hacking. Such attacks by their very nature can be stealthy and ambiguous. A skillful attack can tamper with voting machines and then delete itself, making it impossible to prove after the fact that an election suffered interference. Paper records ensure that it is possible to detect and quickly correct for such interference. Many states still don't follow this baseline best practice.
Risk Limiting Audits
To catch vote tampering, it's important to check some paper records by hand, and not rely on a machine “recount.” An audit shouldn't be a special occurrence during a disputed election. High-quality audits should be automatic, regular parts of our democratic process. Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs) are a proven, innovative way to pick a small sample of ballots for manual counting while achieving a very high level of statistical confidence that any electronic vote-tampering will be detected. This makes them cheap enough to perform audits on every election. As of 2018, three states have implemented RLA mandates, with Colorado leading the way. The other forty-seven should do the same as soon as possible.
No Online Voting
Proposals surface every now and then to allow voting from home or abroad via smartphones or laptops. Security experts are near-unanimous that this is unacceptably risky, and EFF supports this conclusion.