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Our aging voting infrastructure leaves the U.S. election system vulnerable to attack and causes long lines that keep some people from casting a ballot. Meanwhile, election officials are coming under unprecedented attack. The Brennan Center has proposed legislation to fund much-needed updates to our election infrastructure.

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Why It Matters

Most states use electronic voting and tabulation systems that are at least a decade old, and many are no longer even manufactured. Election officials report that they must go to eBay to find replacement parts, which in itself poses a security threat. Registration databases are similarly antiquated, frequently running on unsupported software, which may not receive regular security patches and may be more vulnerable to the latest methods of cyberattacks.

Those aren’t the only problems. States around the country use electronic poll books that were not subject to independent security certification. And every election, poor ballot design and malfunctioning machines lead to confusion, long lines at the polls, and lost votes. These issues hit low-income and minority voters hardest.

The Brennan Center has outlined steps we can take to improve our election administration across the board, including replacing old voting machines, upgrading voter registration databases, conducting thorough audits of paper ballots, performing regular risk assessments, and fixing ballot design defects. And we’re supporting a bipartisan bill in Congress that would give states the funding they need to tackle these problems. 


Federal, State, and Local Safeguards

In addition to foreign cyberattacks and influence campaigns, dangers such as intimidation of election workers and conspiracy theorists assuming election administration positions now put U.S. democracy at risk.

Read our Road Map for Protecting Elections.

Upgrade and Secure Voting Infrastructure

Congress and the states should ensure that jurisdictions have funds to upgrade voting machines and registration databases, conduct regular post-election audits, and undertake continuous threat assessments and remediation. 

Read our Recommendations to Defend America’s Election Infrastructure.

Read more in our Democracy solutions report.

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