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Privacy Plus+: Election integrity matters – We’ve got to guard this moment, and we’re talking to you, Texas legislature. 

Privacy Plus+

Privacy, Technology and Perspective

Election integrity matters – We’ve got to guard this moment, and we’re talking to you, Texas legislature.  Throughout August, we addressed election security.  To read our posts, follow these links to Privacy Plus+:

-       https://www.hoschmorris.com/privacy-plus-news/privacy-plus-august-3-2019 (“The Intersection of Privacy and Politics,” addressing election interference and the Mueller investigation);

-       https://www.hoschmorris.com/privacy-plus-news/privacy-plus-august-10-2019 (“Securing our elections,” addressing the inherent insecurity of electronic voting machines—Incidentally, Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. still has no privacy policy on its website); and

-       https://www.hoschmorris.com/privacy-plus-news/privacy-plus-georgia-voting-machines-on-our-minds (“Georgia (voting machines) on our minds,” addressing negligent contracting with voting machine suppliers and recent intervention by a federal court in Georgia).

Like Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, we are again:

Begging the American people to pay attention to what’s happening…Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children, and your children's children, and generations yet unborn, we've got to guard this moment … This is our watch.”

Right now, there are only 141 days left until February 3, 2020, when Iowa holds its caucuses and primary season officially begins.    By the time Election Day arrives on November 3d, an estimated eight states will still be using entirely electronic, paperless voting machines.  To see if your state is one of them (ours –Texas–is), see the following link:

 https://meritalkslg.com/articles/eight-states-will-vote-paperless-in-2020-despite-security-risks/

 So what’s Texas doing about election security?  Not much.

 The Texas legislature has amended the state’s Election Code to require the secretary of state to define “best practices” for election security, train its own personnel once a year, offer training to county officials if they ask for it, and let the legislature know if they hear about a breach. 

 It also requires county election officials to ask for training once a year, ask for a cybersecurity assessment “if” the secretary of state recommends it “and if the necessary funds are available,” and implement cybersecurity measures according to the secretary of state’s rules “to the extent that state funds are available.”  Here’s the link to the amendment: https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB1421/2019.

 So basically, the Texas legislature is leaving it to the locals to fight foreign interference.  Remember the Alamo?  Exactly.

 What should the Texas legislature do?  It should immediately be convened in special session to require that basic election security safeguards be put in place.

 A recent article in “Politico” by the former (Democrat) secretary of state of California and the former (Republican) secretary of state of Colorado explains that verifiable election security isn’t that hard

 All it would take are three steps:

 1.     Voter-verifiable paper ballots;

 2.    A strong chain of custody for those ballots; and

 3.    Rigorous post-election ballot audits. 

 A link to the Politico article is here: https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2019/09/10/election-security-000954

The Texas legislature could easily copy the language that other states use with respect to statutory requirements for paper ballots or auditable paper trails.  The National Conference of State Legislatures even catalogues that language on its website.  A link follows:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voting-system-paper-trail-requirements.aspx

 But how much will it cost to replace purely electronic voting machines with ones that include a paper trail?  The answer (nationally) is between $580 million and $3.5 billion, according to the Brennan Center.  Here are the details:

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/31/754412132/what-you-need-to-know-about-u-s-election-security-and-voting-machines

While not cheap, it’s not too high a price to pay, either, especially for our democracy. 

Hosch & Morris, PLLC is a Dallas-based boutique law firm dedicated to data protection, privacy, the Internet and technology. Open the Future℠.

 

 

 

 

 

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