Skip to main content

Voting Technology and Security

As local officials and states prepare for 2020 elections, the scientific evidence indicates a number of ways we can improve election security and confidence. The AAAS EPI Center voting security and technology initiative focuses on assisting local, state and federal officials.

The science is clear: Paper ballots, marked either by hand or machine, are the most effective way to ensure that the votes cast in an election reflect voters’ intent. When every vote creates a paper trail that is routinely audited in a statistically-sound method, it provides assurance that votes have been tabulated correctly.

There are increasing calls to allow people to vote online but the evidence tells us that no technology yet guarantees the security and secrecy of Internet voting. While innovative election software and hardware is in development, online voting is not secret or secure. Human-readable paper ballots not only offer the most security, they can be examined, recounted and audited.

Paper ballots remain the most common voting method in the United States but a handful of states continue to use insecure voting machines that electronically record votes without creating a paper record. In 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report, Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy. The report found that direct recording electronic machines that record a voter’s selection to the machine’s memory and automatically tabulate votes are not secure and should be removed from service as soon as possible. The scientific community has demonstrated the security vulnerabilities of these direct recording electronic systems, many of which leave no physical record of the cast vote.

The committee of computer science and cybersecurity experts, legal and election scholars, social scientists, and election officials concluded that local, state, and federal elections should be conducted using human-readable paper ballots, either marked by hand or machine. The report also recommends that states mandate audits prior to the certification of election results.

Download the What We Know: Voting Technology and Security PDF to learn more about voting security.

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

EPI Center letter to members of the Ohio House of Representatives regarding internet voting

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

Video: The Risks of Internet Voting in the Puerto Rico Electoral Code of 2020

Office of Public Programs | Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

Summit Briefs Policy-makers on Drinking Water Safety

Office of Public Programs | Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues | COVID-19 Resources
AAAS News

Top State Officials Urged to Bar Security-Flawed Internet Voting Platforms

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues | COVID-19 Resources
AAAS News

Scientific Experts Call on Elected Officials to Avoid Any Internet Voting

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

Bringing Scientific Evidence to Meet Local Policy Challenges, a Town Hall at the AAAS Annual Meeting

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
Statements

Statement on Ensuring Election Security

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

On Election Day, millions of Americans will cast their votes on paperless, insecure voting machines

Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues
AAAS News

Statement on certification of voting systems in North Carolina