Voting machines failed miserably in a Pennsylvania county in November. The problems, which may have been caused by a software glitch, resulted in some residents who tried to vote straight-ticket Democrat initially registering as straight-ticket Republican. It also incorrectly showed a GOP judicial candidate winning by a nearly statistically impossible margin.

In this case, voters got lucky. The county had paper backups for all the votes the machine counted incorrectly. They showed the Democrat judicial candidate Abe Kassis — who the computer tally said got just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots — actually narrowly won the race.

Officials haven’t determined what caused the failures, but a senior intelligence official who focuses on election security said there were “no visible signs of outside meddling by any foreign actors.” The miscount shows, however, how voting machine vulnerabilities could be exploited by Russia, China or Iran — which U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies said are all eager to interfere in the 2020 contest.

House Democrats have passed bills that would require paper backups for all votes and deliver $600 million for states to upgrade voting machines and add other cybersecurity protections. But Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell has blocked any bills that mandate specific election security fixes.

Northampton also demonstrates the importance of automatic “risk limiting” audits after elections to make sure that paper records back up machine results.

Marks, Joseph “The Cybersecurity 202: Pennsylvania voting debacle gives ammunition to paper ballot push”

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