Well-documented Russian meddling in U.S. elections demands keen concern for the protection of election integrity. This concern should rise to the level of immediate action in light of a new report verifying the lack of federal oversight of the private companies that make voting equipment.
The Brennan Center for Justice, which is based at New York University School of Law, reported that three companies provide more than 80% of the voting systems in the U.S., yet they lack meaningful oversight, leaving the electoral process vulnerable to attack.
A cyberattack against any of these companies could have deep consequences for elections across the country. Other systems that are essential for free and fair elections, such as voter registration databases and electronic pollbooks, are also supplied and serviced by private companies. Yet these vendors, unlike those in other sectors that the federal government has designated as critical infrastructure, receive little or no federal review, the Brennan Center found.
Oversight is needed. Federal standards must be set. Congress should establish a framework for certification of election vendors.
Currently, the federal Election Assistance Commission, which certifies voting equipment, makes the information available to states that ask for that information. It would be a logical next step for the commission to ask vendors to provide details on cybersecurity practices and ownership information then to make that information available to all inquirers.
Voters have been told repeatedly that foreign meddling in U.S. elections is ongoing and pervasive. Creating official oversight of the companies providing voting equipment is the immediate and necessary action needed.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE