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The Significance of Pennsylvania's $125 Million Election Security Fund

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    Mitch McConnell agreed to spend $250 million on election security for 2020. Yet, Pennsylvania will probably spend at least $125 million alone. And that's just to update their voting machines, leaving arguably some of their most vulnerable systems and databases untouched. The Senate might have approved the $250 million to go towards election security for the nation, but when you put that number up next to what Pennsylvania is spending just for themselves, it feels like a drop in the bucket.

    The money Pennsylvania is putting up will only address one vulnerability in an already creaky voting system, which is upgrading their voting machines. That's all well and good, but what about the vulnerabilities of the registration, and post election audits systems? Those are just as important, don't you think?

    Lawrence Norden, the director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University said that the state and local election officials are caught between replacing antiquated paperless voting machines or upgrading an outdated registration database.

    “Two hundred and fifty million dollars across over 8,000 election jurisdictions doesn’t come close to paying for these things in a single year, let alone for elections beyond 2020.”

    Congress allotted $380 million to the states in 2018, which has mostly gone to the 2020 election, but that will still leave a lot more to be done.

    Congress still has a chance to allot more money towards election security. The House approved $600 million, but the two chambers will still need to reach an agreement in a legislative conference this fall. Let's hope more effort goes into it.

    So what does the $125 million say for the rest of the country? If that will only upgrade outdated voting systems in one state alone, then congress will have to cough up the funds necessary to protect the integrity of our already fragile voting system. Or, states will have to foot the bill, which may leave some of the poorer states vulnerable.

    A firm move toward voting security should be bipartisan. It's in each party's interest. Especially after the last election.

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    I'm really happy to see Pennsylvania doing something, especially with its status as a perennial "swing state" that can make or break an election, but unless the entire state adopts an auditing system that has a paper backup then they can throw billions at "election security" and it will all be for naught because hackers have proven that they can break into pretty much any machine they want.

    As much as I love technology, I'm a firm proponent of a paper ballot for all Federal elections. It's the only way to guarantee a fair election free of foreign tampering.

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    JaredS Wrote:

    As much as I love technology, I'm a firm proponent of a paper ballot for all Federal elections. It's the only way to guarantee a fair election free of foreign tampering.

    I hate to agree with you on this but I do. Just for now anyways. I have thought and said for years that the elections should all be electronic and much more accessible - meaning we should all be able to vote on our phones if we wanted to.

    But I do fear hackers and voter fraud options that would open up if you made it that easy and that digital. Maybe tech just isn't there yet for us to bank on a pure digital voting system that's iron clad. Hoping one day soon we can all vote from our smartphones with maybe facial recognition or fingerprint scans. But even that has unintended drawbacks for fear of the govt having that data on every single citizen.. paper ballots remain the most secure option to date, however antiquated it currently feels.