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Applied sciences and engineering/Applied mathematics/Statistics

The North Carolina Board of Elections voted to certify voting systems based on paper ballots. The following is a statement from Michael Fernandez, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues.

The evidence shows that the routine use of statistically driven risk-limiting audits would be the most effective way to ensure the accuracy and security of elections. With the increase in the use of technology to record and tally votes, auditing election results before they are certified can provide additional assurance of the integrity of the results.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 provided funds to help states and counties upgrade voting equipment and many adopted electronic voting machines. But today many voting systems are outdated and vulnerable to interference or errors and some states and counties lack the funds to replace them. A lack of regular, ongoing funding for election security remains one of the primary concerns of election officials. Despite these challenges, election administrators across the country are working to address election security issues and many recently replaced outdated paperless machines and moved to using paper ballots.

New Jersey is among 11 states that continue to use paperless voting to some degree. Over a decade ago, New Jersey recognized the threat of paperless voting systems by requiring a paper record of votes. However, the state never set a deadline for counties to replace paperless machines. Eighteen of 21 counties in New Jersey still use direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines that do not produce a paper record.

The AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (EPI Center) voting security and technology initiative focuses on assisting local, state and federal officials. Last month, the EPI Center called every county election office in New Jersey to discuss whether they plan to purchase new voting systems.

AAAS’ EPI Center is slated to deliver a body of scientific evidence on voting integrity to policymakers and election officials across the country as they prepare for the 2020 elections.

The secretaries of state of Michigan and Alabama joined election security experts to warn members of Congress that much more must be done to secure American elections by 2020. They appeared before the Congressional House committee that oversees federal elections on May 8 to discuss how to combat foreign interference; aging and insecure voting machines, particularly paperless machines; and the need for post-election audits.

Computer scientists, cryptologists, statisticians and other experts share a number of concerns about voting technology, election security, and the verifiability of election results.

The U.S. Census Bureau has adopted a new math-based method to protect privacy of personal information collected during the upcoming census after internal tests showed a worrisome vulnerability in its privacy protections for the previous census. 

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