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The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World

Problems with voting system security are making headlines like never before.

Published: September 20, 2019

Prob­lems with voting system secur­ity are making head­lines like never before. The issue is attract­ing atten­tion because of a number of factors: the rash of close, high-profile elec­tions since 2000, greater atten­tion to secur­ity since Septem­ber 11, 2001, the recent shift in many states from mech­an­ical to compu­ter­ized voting systems, and high-profile reports about hack­ing of common elec­tronic voting machines. Public atten­tion to voting system secur­ity has the poten­tial to be a posit­ive force. Unfor­tu­nately, too much of the public discus­sion surround­ing secur­ity has been marred by claims and counter-claims that are based on little more than spec­u­la­tion or anec­dote.

On June 28, 2006, the Bren­nan Center released a report by its Voting System Secur­ity Task Force on the secur­ity of elec­tronic voting systems. The Task Force was composed of inter­na­tion­ally renowned govern­ment, academic, and private-sector scient­ists, voting machine experts and secur­ity profes­sion­als; together, they conduc­ted the nation’s first system­atic analysis of secur­ity vulner­ab­il­it­ies in the three most commonly purchased elec­tronic voting systems. The Task Force spent more than a year conduct­ing its analysis and draft­ing its report, The Machinery of Demo­cracy: Protect­ing Elec­tions in an Elec­tronic World.