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How to secure U.S. election systems to prevent meddling and hacking

The K.I.S.S. method is legit.

voting box for elections
Image: Unsplash

There was a B-story-line in the Showtime show Billions this past season that discussed election hacking in a sense that didn’t involve any Russia-based hypothesis. Basically, the voting machine companies were in league with an elected official to continuously skew results. Or something like that. The point is that election hacking has become such a mainstream topic that TV shows are writing B-story-lines about it.

Democratic candidate (and, not to give away too much of my personal politics, hopefully our next President) Elizabeth Warren says she wants state-of-the-art voting machines, ballots and election security. It makes sense. As Vice recently exposed, there are still holes in our electronic election system. Voting machines are connected to the internet. And if you want to think about Russia, intelligence agencies found our Cold War foe targeted election systems in all 50 states.

So what’s the solution here? Is it more technology, more security and personnel involved in protecting and creating that technology? Our current administration certainly doesn’t give a shit, unless it involves the Clintons. Yet, candidates are keenly aware that there is an issue and will be an issue in 2020 with electronic election systems. If he loses, even Trump will claim tampering (but only out of narcissistic tendencies). The fact is, our election systems are vulnerable, outside of gerrymandering and systemic suppression of voters of course.

One thing the government has never done well is adapt to new technologies. It’s even worse now with a government led by morons who choose to wallow in ignorance as long as it benefits them, only holding technology to the flames when they feel they’ve been negatively impacted by them. The thinking that a new line of technologically enhanced voting systems being approved and adapted by a corrupt government is way too optimistic and unrealistic for my liking. The only way to go here is backwards.

The best way to secure our election system is by going back to paper. In every district, every corner of the United States. Yes, even paper has a margin of error (like, the entire George W. Bush presidency) but that is still better than our elections being hacked and manipulated by outside forces that cannot and will not be reconciled. Paper can be counted and recounted and scanned and re-scanned if there’s an issue. Just, no more hanging chads.

Paper ballots should be 24-point text, easy to read for people of all ages with giant ass boxes. Voters should be given a Sharpie instead of a pen. Let’s make this as simple as fucking possible. No more computers, no more tablets and elderly people operating them at voting stations. Return to paper. Count by hand or air-gapped scan machine. Any corruption would be obvious and limited to actual human interaction instead of mysterious black hat shit.

I like where Elizabeth Warren’s head is at, but the solution here isn’t more tech, with more vulnerabilities and a governing body that would never allow it to be put into practice, but unplugging every election machine and forcing everyone back onto paper. When the CMS is broken, you fill out the forms by hand. This is why Doctor’s offices still use the fax machine. It’s all about security. Once you attach it to the internet, you’ve lost that security.

Our election system is fucked up beyond repair. We have to start from scratch, and that means going back to paper. We can build that technologically advanced state-of-the-art system after we clean up the mess we’ve created and after we’ve elected officials who actually give a shit about the future of this country and ALL OF the people in it and not just their own narcissistic desires.

What do you think? What is the answer to all of the manipulation and possible hacking when it comes to elections? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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