Top Election Security Tips You Can Use Right Now
Whether you are a voter, poll worker or part of an election system, here are the essential tips to help improve election security.
There are numerous resources and steps you can take to ensure that your vote is cast—and counts—on Election Day. Here are the top five actions to take:
Visit the US Election Assistance Commission for resources on how to register and to vote in your state, including deadlines
Visit the US Election Assistance Commission for polling place lookups
Voting is a transaction, just like using an ATM or buying gas. Protect your personal details just as you would with any day-to-day transaction.
Verify that your touch screen or scan card ballot looks exactly like the one in your voters guide. Visit the US Election Assistance Commission to obtain information on your state’s election office and how to report irregularities.
Follow through to the end of the process: return all voting materials; watch the number counter advance when you scan your ballot; find step-by-step voting guides like these so you know your electronic vote is counted.
If it’s your responsibility to ensure and safeguard elections systems, there are numerous best practices and steps you can take to safeguard our basic democratic right.
The majority of voting machines are more than 10 years old. Many may have not been patched or updated. Visit Verified Voting to learn more about your voting machines and potential vulnerabilities.
Safeguard your hardware as if everything depends on it; it does. It’s relatively easy to tamper with voting equipment. Visual security—making sure the machines have not been tampered with—is a simple way to limit vulnerability.
Keep your voting machines offline; some are actually WiFi-enabled. And if you must connect any polling machines to the internet, be sure to use secured networks, a VPN, and two-factor authentication.
Belfer Center’s The State and Local Election Cybersecurity Playbook has best practices for establishing auditable paper trails and using paper as a contingency to ensure voting is uninterrupted.
Voter registration databases (VRDBs) are simply digital records of registered voters; they face the same security vulnerabilities as any other critical data. Back up the VRDB daily and store it offline as part of your solid recovery plan.
Whether you’re a paid worker or volunteer, you are the front line of defense in election security. The actions you take are significant in making sure everybody’s vote counts.
If you see something you think is suspicious or malfunctioning, chances are it is. Speak up to somebody in authority. And don’t worry about raising an alarm; after all, that’s your role in protecting the integrity of elections.
Whether it’s enough optical scan paper ballots, or provisional paper ballots if something goes wrong at your direct recording electronic (DRE) system polling place, ensure you have enough physical ballots at the start of the day to last through contingencies.
Make sure you’re properly trained and well-practiced on: opening and closing procedures; voting equipment operation; voter check-in scenarios, and that Election Day supplies are available in ample quantities.
Through training and observation, you’ll gauge the typical time it takes to vote. There are even tools to make this calculation. If somebody is taking way too long, check in with them to assess the situation.
There are devices that don’t belong in a voting booth: These may include laptops, thumb drives, tools (screwdrivers and wire cutters), and even cell phones in some jurisdictions. If you see something suspicious, report it to your polling supervisor.