WASHINGTON — Hoping to counter waves of Russian Twitter bots, fake social media accounts, and hacking attacks aimed at undermining American democracy, state election officials around the country are seizing on an old-school strategy: paper ballots.
In Virginia, election officials have gone back to a paper ballot system, as a way to prevent any foreign interference. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe this month ordered county officials to ensure new election equipment produces a paper record. Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation to replace a touch-screen voting system with paper.
Top election officials around the country are growing increasingly alarmed about this fall’s midterm elections, with a drumbeat of dire warning signs that Russia is determined to influence them. And many are concerned that President Trump has not focused on the potential for more attacks on America’s election system like the one Russia launched in 2016.
With little leadership from the White House or Congress, they are acting locally, trying to outwit potential hackers by upgrading equipment and enhancing the cybersecurity of systems that contain sensitive voter registration rolls. Secretaries of state and other elections officials around the country in recent months also began applying for security clearances so that federal officials can start briefing them on classified information — and potential threats to election integrity.