Electronic poll books have often been advocated as the easiest and fastest way of checking voters’ credentials before allowing them to vote.
However, the credibility of e-poll books has been questioned, considering various discrepancies they bring to the process.
This is true that it digitalizes the process of voters’ confirmation, where poll workers can easily cross-check the registration of the potential voters.
However, they remain the primary invasion point in the election, slowing down the process, ultimately driving voter suppression.
Let’s see how these e-poll books assist in regulating the voting efforts and how they suppress the right to vote, either intentionally or unintentionally.
E-Poll Books: The Best Instrument in Utopia
- The most significant benefit of using electronic poll books is that it helps to reduce the time to verify voter credentials compared to paper rolls. So, if it works properly, it can speed up the process.
- In Utopia, it would attract more voters, considering that voters would not have to wait as much in long queues, and they can quickly be done with the long queues in the process.
- Being electronic devices, the data is easily manageable compared to paper rolls, where the data filtration can take hours, resulting in fewer people voting until the end time.
Electronic Poll Books Crisis: The Entry Point in the US Elections for the Hackers
However, the crisis of these e-poll books clearly outweighs their benefits. It is probably the easiest instrument through which election invasion can occur without the government even noticing.
The only purpose of these machines is to speed up the process, but it actually slowed it down in many recent elections.
For instance, these electronic poll books contributed to prolonging delays in Los Angles, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Dakota, just to name a few, in last year’s presidential primary elections.
These machines are highly prone to tampering, qualifying them for the hit-list of cyber attackers.
While it is true that they cannot change the vote directly, it allows cybercriminals to orchestrate the turnouts in certain districts.
The biggest problem with these machines is that they are neither federally certified nor tested by the federal government. So, manufacturers are in the driver’s seat to push the US elections anywhere.
This leads us to the data breaching efforts that these machine providers can lead to bigger profits.They can put tracking devices in the electronic poll books to gather voter registration information in the elections. By collecting this information, they can sell this data to the candidates and campaign financers for big money.
As the machines are not federally tested, the data of the registered voters is always at stake. Although no scandal of data breaching has come to the limelight yet, the functioning mechanisms of these machines allow providers to get involved in these scams.
Who is unaware of the 2016 Russian interference in the US Presidential elections? According to NSA documents, Kremlin-linked cybercriminals tried to penetrate the network of e-polls books in the 2016 elections.
The political influence of the wealthier candidates also remains an issue in the transparency of the electronic polling machines.
Most of the candidates are usually well-aware of the voting patterns of different counties and districts. Therefore, they could mold these machines in the districts having a not-so-favorable support base.
The voters are likely to leave the polling stations without casting their votes, seeing the long delays in the voting machines. If these machines stop working, it can sabotage the efforts of free and fair polling.
E-Polls Books: Democrats are Neither Unaware of the Threat nor Willing to Solve it
Democrats are well aware of these discrepancies in the electronic polling books, but they lack the will to eliminate this voting suppression instrument.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said, while measuring the damage caused by these machines, that,
“Electronic poll books have failed, repeatedly, in elections across the country and are clearly one of the weakest links in our election infrastructure.”
The most alarming thing is that despite posing a severe threat to the national discourse, e-polls books still fail to get widespread attention.
Even the voting rights advocates are more concerned about the activities happening during voter registration and the voting laws.
But, unfortunately, this overlooking of the critical matter can attract potential hackers to invalidate the election’s transparency.
Eliminating these books is never an option, as these are the future considering the efficacy it can bring to the table in an ideal scenario. So, regulating, testing, and certifying them is the only way to go.
Democrats can include them in the HR 1 legislation, which aims to increase the federal authority on the nationwide elections.
Only then the election process can be made free from any foreign intervention.