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A woman votes from a booth as her child plays with a cellphone below inside the gymnasium at the Barack Obama Prep Academy on November 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. - Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's controversial presidency, with control of Congress at stake. About three quarters of the 50 states in the east and center of the country were already voting as polls began opening at 6:00 am (1100 GMT) for the day-long ballot. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Major voting machine maker backs away from paperless models

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Voting machine security is still a sore point, but at least some vendors are starting to change their tune. ES&S chief Tom Burt has declared that his company will “no longer sell” paperless voting machines as the “primary” voting device for a given jurisdiction.

It’s just too hard to conduct a “meaningful” audit of election results without a physical record, Burt said. He went so far as to ask the US Congress to mandate a paper record for all voters.

He also wanted laws dictating a “more robust” testing scheme run by vetted researchers, and to expand on existing advantages like a highly varied (and thus harder to compromise) infrastructure.

While voting machines go undergo testing, they’re not necessarily secure enough to resist attacks “at any point in the process,” Burt said. There isn’t a standard for penetration tests, and legislation could help fix that.The exec didn’t say how quickly the company would drop affected paperless models.

While it could take a while before this shift is noticeable (jurisdictions aren’t going to abruptly toss their existing machines), it’s a significant about-face.

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