Commission begins year-long study of Pa. election security

Ian Bush
May 14, 2018 - 9:52 pm
AJ Conklin takes his ballot to vote at the Oakwood Presbyterian Church precinct in State College, Pa., on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/TNS

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary marks the first vote under the scrutiny of a commission on election security in the state. 

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security through the University of Pittsburgh will conduct a year-long examination of election security in one of the states thought to be most vulnerable to voter hacking. 

Want to confirm your ballot? Need a recount? Tough luck in Pennsylvania. Most precincts use paperless machines, which leave no way to check the integrity of the vote. Hackers may consider that an invitation.

"Experts in the world of technology and cyber security have told us that our system is vulnerable," said Paul McNulty, co-chairman of the commission. "It covers everything from voter registration to the security of voting machines and any type of attack on the system — and how the state is prepared to respond to that."

Pennsylvania is a critical battleground for presidential elections — another allure for hackers.

The Commonwealth is one of 13 states still using insecure balloting equipment. The Wolf administration has ordered the machines be replaced, but not until the end of next year.

The two dozen members and advisers will attend several public meetings scheduled throughout this year. The commission aims to complete its report in 2019 so its recommendations can be implemented in time for the next race for the White House. 

"Confidence is an important part of the democratic process," added former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who is also one of the chairmen on the commission. 

The Grove City College president said the members are studying how the Commonwealth is prepared to prevent attacks on its voting system and how it currently responds to a breach.

"It's a comprehensive look at the election security process from registration all the way through to the count of the vote," he said.