Action must be taken to protect our votes

To the editor:

Less than four months remain before one of the most consequential elections of our time, and New Jersey is one of five states that still vote on unauditable paperless direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. The U.S. intelligence community has stated that these electronic voting machines are a threat to our national security. Intelligence officials believe that Russia attempted to manipulate the results of the 2016 election in almost one-third of the states in the nation and that it will try to do so again this year.

Paperless electronic voting machines cannot be trusted to count votes accurately, are easily manipulated by malevolent actors and the resulting votes are not verifiable after the fact. Evidence of manipulation became clear in an election in Cumberland County in 2011, which had to be decertified and conducted again because the DRE machines wrongfully gave the winner’s tallies to the loser.

In 2005, our state legislators sought to protect New Jersey from threats to the accuracy, integrity and security of our elections by passing legislation requiring a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast. Four years later, they required a manual audit of those paper ballots. However, neither of those critically necessary laws has ever been implemented due to lack of funding.

Prior to the 2017 gubernatorial election, then candidate Phil Murphy pledged to the Coalition for Peace Action to replace all of our aging paperless voting machines with paper ballots and optical scan technology and to implement the audit law. Even without the purchase of new precinct-based optical scanners, paper ballots could still be counted by the central optical scan machines in each county used for tabulating absentee ballots, and should be made subject to the already existing manual audit law.

Our state legislature has done nothing to solve the threat that continued use of paperless DREs will subject our elections to this November. We know that other states have successfully transitioned to paper ballots with optical scanners in two months’ time without incident. With courageous leadership, New Jersey could achieve this as well.

Please urge Governor Murphy to keep his promise and protect our upcoming elections. Decertify all paperless DREs in this state immediately, and require paper ballot voting systems in time for the November elections.

Stephanie Harris

Chair of Voting Integrity Task Force

Coalition for Peace Action