Hawaii congresswoman working to protect the polls this November

Published: Mar. 30, 2018 at 4:44 PM EDT
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“There should be a sense of urgency," Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) said.

Gabbard is frustrated by the inaction of her colleagues in the wake attempted hacking during the 2016 election. She said that’s when 21 states’ election systems were targeted by hackers.

Gabbard said she wants to protect Americans’ votes against this kind of vulnerability and believes she knows how. That's to help states provide voters with paper ballots.

“My bill empowers them to make sure that they are either paper ballots or if they are using an electronic system that it has a voter verified back-up," she added.

Five states have no paper trail at all. They are: Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Delaware. Gabbard’s bill would allocate federal funding to those states.

Rep. Gabbard's bill is the only related bill that would authorize emergency funding for states, rather than requiring states to apply for funding through grants.

Experts I spoke to argue other bills in Congress would go further than Gabbard’s bill to keep the polls protected. However, Gabbard says her bill was purposefully narrowly crafted to implement paper ballots before the 2018 elections.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill also just approved nearly $4 million to improve election infrastructure across the country. Julian Sanchez with the libertarian Cato Institute said 43 states use voting machines that aren’t even being made anymore. He said the system needs to improve, but time is running out to secure them by the midterm elections.

“We’re getting close to the point where that is close to likely not to be feasible especially if a state is just starting now," Sanchez added.

Sanchez believes paper backup systems could be in place by the 2020 presidential elections. Until then another expert said to arm yourself with information.

“One thing to do is look into how your state is securing your elections. Talking to your local legislators about what they know about this election security stuff and making sure that if you are voting in November, trying to cast your vote on a paper ballot," Chris Hughes with Fair Vote said.

Hughes said the states hold the key to all of this because they choose which voting machines to use.

On Friday, a bill to replace electronic voting machines in Georgia fell short.

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