SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — From immigration to cybersecurity, state officials are also attempting to get ahead of Washington when it comes to preventing election meddling.
And the state’s top election cop is at the forefront of the issue, going before lawmakers at a cybersecurity hearing on Wednesday.
“We have a president who refuses to acknowledge what the Russians did in 2016, has not acted on it, has not responded to it,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Padilla says he’s not waiting around, saying the threat of a foreign cyberattack is real unless we act now.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, agree.
“It’s come from China, it’s come from Russia, it’s come from all over the globe, even come from domestic sources,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach).
Harper, the vice chair of the Elections Committee, says to improve the system the state needs to replace it altogether.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget calls for about $135 million for upgraded voting systems, but election advocates say, while innovation is important, old-fashioned paper ballots can’t be left out.
“To make sure there isn’t an error in the machine or a risk that the machine isn’t hacked we need to do some type of manual counting to check — and audit what that result is,” said Nicolas Heirdorn advocate with Common Cause.
Padilla agrees that paper record is still a basic safeguard, that’s recently been tested to meet security standards.
“The vast majority of Californians vote on paper ballots… the few that don’t still have a paper trail of some sort that we can audit and recount to ensure the integrity of the results,” said Padilla.
For now, he says the focus is on rolling out the new, secure technology in time for the 2018 election. But even if the money is approved, it’s unclear whether those new systems will be ready by the 2018 or 2020 elections. Election officials say that’ll be up to individual counties to decide.