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US Voting Process Under Scrutiny: 'All the Things that Could Possibly Go Wrong'

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Less than five months from the presidential election, state officials are busy preparing for the voting process. According to one survey, a vast majority have increased security since 2020, hoping to ensure results can be trusted. 

The Pentagon is reaching out to higher education for help, enlisting research teams from two Maryland universities. Their task: a three-year risk assessment focused specifically on the vulnerabilities of voting machines. 

"We are looking at all the things that could possibly go wrong. Those could be an actor trying to disrupt something, maybe...trying to break a machine or trying to back vote for somebody who's dead, or things like that. But they could also be honest mistakes," Dr. Natalie Scala of Towson University told CBN News. 

Scala, the co-director of the Empowering Secure Elections Lab at Towson, says this is the perfect assignment for academia, rather than government officials to tackle.

"For academics, we look at it based purely on data," Scala explained. "So we don't necessarily have a favorite candidate. We don't necessarily have an agenda to push. We just want that vote to stay the way it is, from the moment somebody casts it to the moment we count it, we want nothing to happen there. And what can we do to make sure that that happens, that that integrity stays there, so the American people can have their votes counted." 

The project's focus involves optical scanners, used by 70 percent of voters, and ballot marking devices, used by the remaining 30 percent. 

"We are looking at it from the, you know, America like the average American standpoint and making sure that you feel confident and secure in the processes that we have," Scala said.

In the past, her lab provided training for Maryland poll workers, a project she says will add to their current research.

"We don't want poll workers to make honest mistakes, and those mistakes become risks, you know, or problems. And we also want poll workers to be able to identify if something is going wrong," Scala said.

This is the first of the lab's three-year Pentagon grant. The team will consider cyber, physical, and insider threats. An overall approach, that will hopefully result in protecting other critical infrastructure, like the power grid.

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot
Caitlin
Burke

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT