November 1, 2018

Professor: Electronic voting offers easy target for today’s technology

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Elections function under a small set of basic principles, including privacy of the voters and completing the vote count quickly.

Eugene Spafford, a professor of computer science at Purdue, says using an electronic voting system with today's technology makes each of these principles susceptible to hacks.

Spafford, speaking as part of the Purdue Policy Research Institute series on midterm elections, said the direct-recording electronic voting systems used by most are outdated and don’t allow for backup auditing of the ballots.

He recommends a ballot marking system, already in use in about a dozen states. These machines allow a ballot to be printed out for verification, saved and audited. But he noted technology isn’t the only factor in protecting election voting.

“Even if technology is accurate, there are political issues that affect how the technology is wielded,” said Spafford, an advisor for the Verified Voting Foundation.

He said vote fraud, even though it rarely happens, is commonly used by parties as an excuse for an election loss and expects that to be the case in next week’s midterm elections. 

Writer: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu

Source: Eugene Spafford, 765-494-7825, spaf@purdue.edu

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