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DeBeauvoir Details Election Security Plan

DeBeauvoir Details Election Security Plan

In testimony before the United States Election Assistance Commission , Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir called for constant vigilance, continuous technology improvement, and vigorous public participation to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections.

In prepared remarks, DeBeauvoir discussed perceived threats to electronic voting systems and spelled out recommendations aimed at preventing—rather than merely detecting—election security breaches.

Preventing Attacks

“The true goal should be prevention of attack, not detection after the fact,” DeBeauvoir said. “Our systems—and our democracy—are strengthened when we embrace public scrutiny and open discussion.”

DeBeauvoir described the proposal commonly known as a Voter Verifiable Paper Ballot, or “paper trail,” as a means to detect fraud after the fact, and she suggested that further risk assessments specific to each voting system should be developed.

In a series of recommendations aimed at risk reduction, DeBeauvoir called for a mix of technology improvements and manual procedures that, combined, would curtail the greatest threats to election security.
In particular, DeBeauvoir asked the commission to consider:

  • requiring the use of “hash code” testing, or cyclical redundancy checks, to confirm that only the certified version of election software is used to conduct an election and tally election results
  • requiring the use of manual as well as automated, high-volume logic and accuracy testing, with set procedures for conducting the tests
  • segregating election duties, including pre-election preparation, early voting and election day administration, results tallying, and recount procedures, and
  • adopting a more cost-effective single station approach for voter verifiable paper ballots (if adopted) that also would streamline implementation and training of election workers.

Travis County’s eSlate System

While acknowledging the need for stepped-up measures to reduce risks, DeBeauvoir commended the eSlate voting system used in Travis County as more accurate and tamper-proof than any voting method employed in the past.
DeBeauvoir noted that the eSlate is distinct from other electronic touch-screen systems in that it employs on a “touch-button” method that eliminates screen calibration problems. Additionally:

  • the eSlate system is not connected to the Internet
  • allows the County, rather than the vendor, to program the ballot
  • provides triple redundancy of data storage and battery back-up on all equipment.

Committees and Commissions

DeBeauvoir serves on the Elections Security Subcommittee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, whose task is to study and make technical recommendations on statewide security standards for voting equipment. She previously has called on the Texas Secretary of State to conduct a statewide study and to develop recommendations on security standards for voting equipment.

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent bipartisan agency, is authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to serve as "...a national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information" on various matters involving the administration of Federal elections.

DeBeauvoir was scheduled to speak at 2:00 pm ET as part of a day-long public hearing taking place at EPA Headquarters, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Room 3000, in the Rachel L. Carson Great Hall of the Ariel Rios North Building.

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