Technology has made it easier to hack into voting machines and potentially change elections.
There’s no way to debate that sobering fact — or that measures must be taken to ensure the most accurate voting results possible.
The FBI reported many states had their election systems scanned or targeted by Russian hackers in 2016. While Kansas wasn’t one of them, the state still has serious questions related to election security — and should heed the call of experts who recently testified in Congress about the need to abandon vulnerable touchscreen voting machines in favor of paper-based systems.
Kansas has a mix of paper ballots and electronic machines with and without a paper trail, with some voting machines that spit out a paper receipt. But Kansans have reported printouts not matching their intended votes.
It’s all cause to move quickly toward statewide paper ballots. Short of as much, there should be a paper trail for every electronic vote cast, and an audit system that would compare machine counts with paper records.
State lawmakers in Kansas are taking up a post-election audit requirement. While that’s good, they also need to tackle other pressing issues — namely the state’s top elections official and his far-reaching crusade to rig elections by discouraging voter participation.
For starters, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an extreme-right Republican running for governor, will oversee an election in which he’s a candidate. No one who’s a driving force behind voter suppression measures, as Kobach has been, should have that kind of control. He should recuse himself or be required to step aside while running for office.
Kobach, after all, pushed for onerous proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements that disproportionately hinder the poor, young adults, minorities, seniors, disabled and other prospective voters unlikely to support his side’s ultraconservative agenda.
Concern over potential hacking of electronic machines that has caused some citizens to consider not voting at all also would aid Kobach and fellow ultraconservatives. Low voter turnout usually benefits candidates on the far right.
Our democracy requires fair and credible elections, with engagement from as many citizens as possible. Those who put self-serving political interests first — notably Kobach — only destroy the process.