The confirmation of foreign influence in the 2016 Presidential Election has left advocates of fair and equal voting furious and concerned over the vulnerability in our elections. Of these included the Center for American Progress (CAP). This organization tested their suspicions of improper voting operations by investigating voting practices in the past election.
Earlier this year, CAP researchers presented their findings. They assessed each state on seven different criteria:
- Cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems;
- voter-verified paper audit trail;
- post-election audits;
- ballot accounting and reconciliation;
- return of voter paper absentee ballots;
- voting machine certification requirements;
- pre-election logic and accuracy testing.
Each area was graded on a scale from A to F. Based on their criteria, not one area received an A. The highest rating was a B, an award given to a mere 11 states. Twenty-three states received a C, 12 a D, and five states received an F.
Former Director of Homeland Security under President Obama, Jeh Johnson expressed his concerns over current election procedures that leave us vulnerable to foreign influence. He spoke of his worries that the meddling threats have not received legitimate attention.
In October 2016, the administration gathered unmistakable proof of Russian-sponsored interference. Alarmed by this, Johnson alerted the public of Russia’s dangerous involvement in the election, expecting this news would captivate the country. Rather though, this information was quickly swallowed up by competing news. Johnson emphasized that inaction to foreign intervention leaves America’s democracy in jeopardy, as the Russians have already attempted to infiltrate upcoming elections.
The CAP report concludes that the government is failing to take the necessary precautions to protect our voting institutions, leaving us susceptible to further attacks in a critical midterm election year. Instead, acute partisan divides cloud potential progress on national security measures.
The government must transgress partisan politics and enact visible defenses to ensure the sanctity of our democracy. Elections and voting are the cornerstones of our democracy, and to forfeit these rights indicates a rejection of our fundamental values as Americans. The longer the government delays reprimanding foreign meddlers, the longer our democracy is at risk. Without punishment, disruptive powers can continue to act. With the 2018 midterm elections rapidly approaching, this issue is one of critical importance and the government must act now to prevent future attacks on our democracy.