By The Houston Chronicle
The mechanic finishes repairing your car.
“I fixed that power steering lines,” he says. “But I noticed the clutch is about to fail. Maybe next week or next month, but you’re living on borrowed time.”
So what do you do? You have him install a new clutch, of course. It’s too dangerous not to.
Alarmingly, Texas policy makers have not applied this logic to our state’s voting systems.
Cyber experts have warned that many electronic voting machines used in Texas and 13 other states are vulnerable to hacking because they do not produce paper records as a backup. But in recent months, counties have spent millions of dollars on new voting machines that, yet again, do not keep paper records.
The American intelligence community asserts that Russia has tried to breach our voting systems for more than two years. The midterm elections are just seven months away, yet in many cases Texas systems remain as vulnerable as during the 2016 elections.
What makes this issue more maddening is that state and federal officials have focused on election security problems that simply fail to exist.
President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that millions of illegal votes caused his loss in California. He dispatched Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, to investigate allegations of widespread voter fraud around the country, but Kobach found none. Meanwhile, in these parts, a Tarrant County judge sentenced a woman who voted though she was ineligible to five years in prison.
In one case, a Texas county that tried to do the right thing was hamstrung by poor state leadership. San Jacinto County recently spent a cool $383,000 on a new paperless voting system because no one in Austin or Washington warned against it. Now the county’s election administrator is frantically searching for a quick fix.
Texas must end the use of paperless voting systems. We acknowledge this may be an expensive mandate for many counties, but the Legislature must appropriate funds when necessary to ensure this happens. Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to stamp out voter fraud in the state. By supporting a shift away from paperless voting machines, he would be making great strides toward this goal.
We applaud the Legislature’s decision this past fall to create a committee on election security. But to live up to its billing, the seven-member panel must draft statewide requirements for voting systems and retire all paperless machines.
Texans already vote in dismally low numbers. The last thing we need is a reason for voters to have less faith in our elections.